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What is the difference between 太太 and 夫人? My book (外国人学汉语) translates it as the same word. “Woman (married)” and it says they can both be a suffix as well as a noun.

Question: Is there really no difference between the two?

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In modern Chinese:

太太 is a common title for "Mrs." or a noun for "married woman" (in general)

Mrs. : a title used before a surname or full name to address or refer to a married woman, or a woman who has been married, without a higher or honorific or professional title.

夫人 is a more formal honorific or title for "Madam" or a noun for "married woman" (of high status)"

Madam :(often initial capital letter) a polite term of address to a woman, originally used only to a woman of rank or authority:

In short, 太太 is a general title for married women; 夫人 is a more formal/honorable title for married women;

女仕 is another honorific for women. A formal/ polite term for addressing to adult woman (single or married)

The difference between 太太 and 夫人 is somewhat similar to San (さん) and Sama (様) in Japanese

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  • Until you mentioned the Japanese equivalent I was still clueless. But now I understand it. Thank you for the explanation. – Otsukisama May 7 '18 at 11:18
  • @TangHo. Am I right in saying that when using 女仕 her own surname is used, even if she is married? It is similar to the "Ms." ? – Wayne Cheah Aug 14 at 4:07
  • @Wayne Cheah Yes, when using 女仕, her own surname is used, even if she is married. But you can add her husband's surname in front of it. For example 周梁淑儀女仕, (周 is her husband's family name, 梁 is her maiden name) – Tang Ho Aug 14 at 4:23
  • 梁淑儀--> 周梁淑儀--> 周梁淑儀女仕. We don't say 周梁淑儀太太 or 周梁淑儀夫人 because with her husband's family name in front of her maiden name, it already indicated she is the wife of Mr. 周, therefore 太太 or 夫人 would be redundant. – Tang Ho Aug 14 at 4:29
  • @TangHo. Thanks for the clarification. – Wayne Cheah Aug 14 at 4:45

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