Family words (father, sister, mom, etc.) capitalized?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Curious about Language, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. Curious about Language Senior Member

    Japan
    Australia, English
    Hello everyone,
    As far as I know, these words should never be capitalized - the exception would be for Father meaning "God", but apart from that, the first letter should always be in lower case. Is that correct?
     
  2. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I agree that you wouldn't normally capitalize when dealing with family, but "Father" is a title for a priest and "Sister" is a title for a nun, so you will see both of them capitalized in certain contexts. :)
     
  3. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Hello CaL,

    Not quite correct. These words are sometimes used as titles, or names.

    Oh Father, Freddie is pulling my pigtails again.

    Don't worry Daughter Loob, you may kick him as you see fit.
     
  4. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    If I am referring to my mother by her name/title, then I capitalise it, i.e Mum - like a proper noun. If I'm using it as a normal noun, I don't.

    E.g.

    My friend: What did your parents say?
    Me: Well, my mum said "OK", but my dad said he would think about it.

    Versus

    Me: Well, Mum said "OK", but Dad said he would think about it.


    E.g.2, in a letter:

    Dear Mum...
     
  5. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Jerusalem
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Along with "Brother" for a monk or friar. :)
     
  6. mtmjr

    mtmjr Senior Member

    California/Ohio (US)
    English (US)
    I have no idea if this has any reason behind it, but I always write "Mom" and "Dad" with capital letters in my writings when the words represent "my mom" and "my dad", respectively. If, however, they are not mine, I do not. Example:

    "I don't like to lie to my mom."
    "I don't like to lie to Mom."
    "I helped my friend pick out a gift for his dad."
    "I bought Dad some golf clubs."

    It's almost as if I capitalize them to signify personal possession. Again, this could just be me being weird...
     
  7. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Jerusalem
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Nope, not weird but I think the reason is not "to signify personal possession"; you are using these words as names, as proper nouns. Cuchu gave a charming example of this in post 3. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Carb New Member

    Swedish
    Or perhaps to signify respect? Assuming you capitalize God and Father(for priest), I don't see any reason not to capitalize "Father" and "Mother" (referring to your parents). Let's say you believe in God, without Him you woulden't be here, but the same can be said about your father.

    Or maybe, if we assume that you still call your parents "mother" and "father" and not by their names. I guess one could say that you are replacing their real names, which you would capitalize, with "Mother" and "Father". IE; their names to you are "Mother" and "Father".
     
  9. Curious about Language Senior Member

    Japan
    Australia, English
    Thank you all for your posts! I believe I understand now, the
    "my mum/Mum" distinction makes it pretty clear when to capitalize or not, and it feels right. Thanks!
     
  10. Tenacious Learner

    Tenacious Learner Senior Member

    Spanish
    Hi teachers,
    After reading them, I guess I can conclude that 'without a possessive adjective (my, your, his, her, our, their) Mom/Dad is always upper case. Right?


    TS
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
  11. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    California
    English - US
    Yes, I think people have agreed on that. When you use these words as you would a name, you capitalize them. :)
     
  12. Tenacious Learner

    Tenacious Learner Senior Member

    Spanish
    Hi Cagey,
    Thanks! The thread has been very helpful to me.;)

    TS
     
  13. Most BrE speakers don't capitalise mum and dad the way Americans do.

    Rover
     
  14. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    You can informally use mom or dad wherever you might use mother and father so: He doesn't have a mom. No uppercase.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2013
  15. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    California
    English - US
    You wouldn't capitalize Mum in as sentence like mtmjr's example in post #6 above?

    "I don't like to lie to Mom[Mum]."

    (In AE we say mom where you say mum.)
     
  16. No, I wouldn't.
     
  17. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    I share Cagey's suprise. Post #11 describes my usage precisely.
     
  18. In sentences like

    "She goes to the garden but her Father and Mother are not there, too."

    "Brother and Sister brought a cake with seven candles."


    Is it okay to set the first letter of Father, Mother, Brother and Sister in uppercase? Or keep it in lowercase since they are just common nouns?

    In written it seems okay that they are not, but I find it kind of weird because I am thinking they are replacements to the proper names of the characters.


    "She goes to the garden but her father and mother are not there, too."

    "Brother and sister brought a cake with seven candles."


    <Jac's thread has been merged with an earlier thread>
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2013
  19. Seems Posts #10 and #11 already answered my question. Thanks!
     
  20. perpend

    perpend Banned

    American English
    This discussion has been added to a previous thread. Cagey, moderator.

    This is from another thread on Leo.

    I don't know why. When it refers to one's own parents, I prefer Mom and Dad capped.

    I don't think it's sub-standard. I think it is some bizarre semblance of respect? :D
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2016
  21. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    Thanks for the answer, perpend. It's probably better to move this side-discussion to another thread, and I'm glad that you did so.

    I'm certainly not trying to make a big deal out of it, but I wanted the other member to understand that your capitalization practice wasn't standard. "I saw your brother/mom/dad at the store this morning" uses lowercase letters for "mom", "dad", and "brother". This is the approach that I was taught in school, and I think it's standard practice.
     
  22. perpend

    perpend Banned

    American English
    Okay---You just changed the context there a little.

    I said, referring to one's own parents. That was the context in the other thread.
     
  23. Rhye

    Rhye Senior Member

    English - American
    It seems unfair to me that your mom gets capitalized while, in your writing, my mom wouldn't.

    < --- >


    < Topic drift removed. Cagey, moderator. >
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2016
  24. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    I don't think it matters, perpend. I was taught to use "your mom", "my mom", etc. I'd likely use "Mom" in a letter to a brother who also knew her as "Mom": Mom wanted to go to Denver last weekend, but I wasn't able to take any time off to drive her.
     
  25. perpend

    perpend Banned

    American English
    Interesting! (Thanks for more input, Owlman.)

    I would probably write this: My Mom is the reason I like to knit/sew.*

    I can't explain why.

    *I made that up. I don't do either.
     
  26. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    My usage:
    I think Mom is a great cook.
    My mom is a great cook.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2016
  27. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    Mine as well.

    < ---- >

    < Topic drift removed. Cagey, moderator. >
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2016
  28. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Mine is the same. :)
     

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