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Tight Finances Needn't Pinch Social Outings

We have a niece who addresses all mail Mr. and Mrs. Smith. She never includes the first name of anyone. We feel this is disrespectful.

Well, no. Miss Manners begs you not to find imaginary insults in someone who is, first of all, writing to you, and second, using honorifics. Both habits have become rare.

Traditionally, omitting the first names like that indicates that you are THE Smiths -- the heads of the family or its most distinguished members. See if you can find an insult in that.

Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

2009 Judith Martin

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