After watching some period dramas and courtroom dramas, I'm really confused of whether to use "my" or "your" when speak to someone with respect.

Are there some rules for these statements or are these just fixed patterns?

  • 1
    can you make it clearer?
    – Maulik V
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 9:17
  • @Maulik V Yes, I mean, why are they using your honour instead of 'my honour', and my lady instead of your lady, to me the circumstance and the context are almost the same, which is, they show some courtesy first, before speaking to the lady or the judge. I hope I've made it clear this time :)
    – Evelyn1986
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 9:24
  • Exact duplicate : english.stackexchange.com/questions/2812/… Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 14:17

2 Answers 2


It's crude but it can be simplified this way:


Think Feudalism. Lords held lands and people tending their lands are under them. If you're taking care of the lord's land, then you have a lord. So you would say: My Lord. As if noting that: You are my lord.


You want to address the person having grace and honor. Saying "My Honour" or "My Grace" would sound like you're praising yourself.

  • 5
    This isn't a crude simplification at all. It's exactly how it works. Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 11:46
  • Wouldn't it normally be "Your Ladyship" rather than just "Your Lady"?
    – Phil Perry
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 17:17
  • 3
    @PhilPerry Yes; because having a ladyship is very different from having a lady. ;)
    – Helix Quar
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 17:28
  • Thanks helix, occasionally I also see "his Lordship", I think that also make sense according to your answer. :)
    – Evelyn1986
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 0:44
  • It is "Your Lordship" (the state of being a Lord is his) and "My Lord" (because he is that). Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 8:28

For the British aristocracy the use of my or your depends upon whether the title is a specific rank or a general form of respect.

A holder of a rank of the nobility should be addressed with the form appropriate, for example a Duke, would be formally addressed as Your Grace. The title is inherent in the rank of Duke. Effectively the speaker is saying that "you are a Duke".

A holder of any noble rank may be addressed as My Lord. Here the speaker is simply recognizing that the addressee is Lord over the speaker. In other words, of higher rank.

Outside the nobility, for example a judge, the use of Your Honour recognizes that the post of judge deserves to be honoured - respected.

  • 2
    Have they stopped using "Your Worship" to address judges, and picked up the American "Your Hono[u]r"? I recall 20 or 30 years ago that an Australian was appearing in a New York City courtroom, and (as normal) addressed the judge as Your Worship. He got something of a tongue-lashing for appearing to try to ingratiate himself with the judge!
    – Phil Perry
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 17:06

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