In the English language, the distinction between Miss, Mrs. and Ms. is very clear. The title Miss is always used in relation to an unmarried woman, the title Mrs. refers to a married woman and the title Ms. is used when the female’s marital status is unknown (even though today many women over the age of 30 refer to themselves as Ms. even though they are unmarried). Men have an all-round easier time as they are referred to as Mr. regardless of their marital status.
Ever adaptable, the Maltese language has a similar model to the British one. Mr. or Sinjur becomes shortened to Sur in the man’s case and a married woman would be referred to as Sinjura (which is in turn shortened to Sra). If you want to refer to a single woman, you would call her Sinjorina. This is in turn shortened to Sna.
When it comes to the aforementioned Ms. term which has become widely used, the shortened term Sa is employed. What is interesting about the Sa term is that it has always been considered to be a term which shows the utmost respect, in fact, if you read through any old document or book, you will gather that it was a term much used to describe older, unmarried ladies from respectable or well-to-do families. It is interesting to note that the Sa term literally uses the first and last letters of both Sinjura and Sinjorina which means that you’ll have a pretty easy time of remembering this particular term.
Nowadays, many Maltese people avoid using the Sra and Sna terms altogether as in this way they avoid the possibility of unwittingly offending the woman they are sending letters, invitations or important documents too. Our advice is to always use the Sa term if you are uncertain of someone’s marital status.