It is difficult, sometimes, to know which word
to use among “woman,” “girl” or “female.” Each one carries
connotations along with their literal meanings (which can seem
quite similar to students unfamiliar with English).
In some circles, especially within families, the
word “girls” might be used to describe grown women of varying
ages. An alternative, “ladies,” is less demeaning, but still may
cause offense if used outside a family. Older Canadians, growing
up in a time of different social customs, may sometimes still use
the word “girl” to describe a secretary or assistant.
But, no matter where you are, and especially if
you are not sure of the customs, it is best to describe females as
“women” and a female individual as a “woman.” Take your cues from
those around you. When I am with family and comfortable, I might
call grown women “girls,” often in a joking and gentle way, but
never say that in public or at school.
Listen to people around you. What do they say?
To fit in well, follow the social norm.
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