For example, the full name of a French mathematician is Guillaume François Antoine, Marquis de l'Hôpital. Should I call him Monsieur de l'Hôpital, Monsieur l'Hôpital, or Monsieur Antoine?

  • I get the impression that de l'Hôpital was only an example, and you're actually dealing with the name of another person (potentially still alive today)... Is that right? Also, what context will you be using this in? Are you addressing him (talking/writing TO him) or talking/writing ABOUT him?
    – Alicja Z
    Apr 1, 2014 at 8:03
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    I would be very interested in finding out which French aristocrat would be both alive today and willing to use his or her aristocratic title(s). It's not something that has been appreciated much in France since the revolution (both things: for aristocrats to be alive or use their titles.)
    – oerkelens
    Apr 1, 2014 at 8:17
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    You'll have to use whatever rule goes in the French protocol, even if you talk to the nobility in English. Using last or first names is something not correct in French (although some people do it) so you have to use the name that goes with the title, when talking about the person "Monsieur le Marquis de l'Hôpital", and no name when addressing him, plain: "Monsieur le Marquis".
    – None
    Apr 1, 2014 at 8:21
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    @oerkelens. We do have them. Just one example: fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duc_d%27Albufera. Plenty of others.
    – None
    Apr 1, 2014 at 8:23
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    When in France, follow French usage. But in the US he would usually be addressed as "Bill". Or possibly "Frank". Apr 1, 2014 at 10:40

1 Answer 1


I don't think he will mind how you address him - he's been pushing up the daisies for some time now.

In general I would not worry too much about French aristocrats, or the need to address them.

In the late 18th century, the French had gotten so upset with their aristocrats, they organized a little revolution, effectively doing away with the concept of aristocracy. Even the king was addressed as citoyen Capet before they separated him from his head.

Chances are that if you meet any Frenchmen who happens to have an aristocratic title today, they will (also) go by a "normal" last name, and you would be expected to use that name.

When you refer to the said mathematician, he's usually known simply as L'Hôpital.

  • 3
    I agree with you that L'Hôpital won't mind but the living counts dukes and other princes will probably mind if the likes of you and me address them! Found this for you: lefigaro.fr/lefigaromagazine/2009/05/02/…. Article written in 2008 (don't trust the date at the top of the page), far away from 1789. Maybe this will be of some interest to you. But we're out of the site's scope, see you on fr.se if you like.
    – None
    Apr 1, 2014 at 8:32

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