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Names and titles in English are particularly difficult for Korean learners because there are so many cultural differences. This section tries to explain some of those differences. 

NAMES AND TITLES (under construction)
By Adam Jonathan Turner

What’s your name?

My name is ______.

Names are something we learn right at the beginning of language learning. But Names are not simple. They get even more difficult when we add titles to names.

Take this quiz to see if you are familiar with the basic vocabulary to describe names.


Here are some situations that show you how to use names and titles appropriately.


Situation: I am in the office at Hanyang University Language Institute and Miss Kim, one of the office staff, says, “Hello, Adam Teacher.”

There are four mistakes with this title. What are they?

Drag your cursor and highlight the text below to find the answer:


  1. Title + Family Name not first name.
  2. Title plus First name (Miss or Master) is only rarely used for or by children or to show affection.
  3. Title is before Family Name in English: President Kerry.
  4. Title only, “Teacher” is usually only used by children in elementary school.

What then should I be called if I am not a professor?


Songsaengnim has a much more general meaning in Korean culture. In fact, Koreans use a lot of titles especially in the office.

Titles and Greetings

Situation: It is your first job after graduating from University. You are working at an internship in New York and you meet the assistant manager Bob Taylor in the hallway. You are a new employee and don’t know him very well. How do you greet him?


I meet a manager in an office in Korea for the first time. This was our conversation:

A. Hello, I’m Adam Turner.

B. Hello, I am Kim.

I often have this kind of introduction from older men in Korea. What is the problem here?

Family name only is not usually used to refer directly to people. It survives in “Harry Potter style” traditional private schools and the military and is sometimes used to call people only for attendance.

In Korean, it makes sense to say, “Good Morning, Assistant Director Kim.”

The same sentence in English sounds very strange. We would just say Mr. Kim.

We use titles much less frequently in English. However, we do use some titles in English and they follow this form.


Martial Arts and traditional culture teachers often use the term


You know this from Korean martial arts:

Another well know example are the Jedi Knights of STARWARS

Brothers and Sisters

My brother is six years younger than me. We are both single.What does my younger brother call me?


Situation: How would your older brother react if you called him by his first name only?


North American culture is generally much more casual in terms of relationships between people. In my office the English teachers, including my head teacher, just call each other by our first names only. Don’t exaggerate how casual NA culture is, however. I called all of my professors, Professor + Family Name when I was a student. However, especially in American small colleges or sometimes between graduate students and professors, first names may be used.

Formal Email and Formal Business Letters



Basic Titles used in conversation and letter Salutations. In British English there is sometimes no period after “Mr”
















Exceptions to the general rules


Master             + First name

Is sometimes used for girls. Master + First name is rarely used for boys. You may hear this in the movies. Especially when servants are talking to the children of their employer. It is not commonly used today. The movie Driving Miss Daisy, and the butler Alfred calling Robin, “Master Robin” from Batman are some famous examples.

Miss + First name

is sometimes used for unmarried female teachers of children.

Middle names

You may have noticed my name in the beginning:

“By Adam Jonathan Turner”

Jonathan is my middle name. Middle names are usually only used for passports, government documents or sometimes nicknames. I almost never use mine.


A PDF file handout detailing the correct format for emaill.
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