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What is the correct abbreviation of ‘Monsieur’?

Although many native French speakers abbreviate to Monsieur to Mr, it is not grammatically correct

Is it Mister or Monsieur Bricolage? Pic: BreizhAtao / Shutterstock

Reader question: Why do some people abbreviate Monsieur to Mr? Is it an anglicism or accepted usage?

There are indeed many native French speakers who abbreviate Monsieur to Mr, when writing an email for example, but this is not actually correct usage. 

The correct abbreviation in French is M, or MM in the plural. Mr, of course, is the English abbreviation for ‘mister’ – British, as opposed to US, usage prefers not to include the full stop in abbreviations such as this where the first and last letters are used. 

The error is common – after all, the chain of DIY stores Mr. Bricolage is pronounced Monsieur Bricolage

While most people will not bat an eyelid when seeing that store sign, things can get a bit more confusing if those using Mr try to pluralise it… to Mrs! 

The abbreviation Mr is not a completely modern trend in French, however. It was commonly used in letters from the 18th century, but fell out of fashion before making a more recent comeback. 

One benefit is that it avoids confusion where M could refer to a first name beginning with the letter ‘M’

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