Capitalization in Dad/Father/Papa/Mom/Mother/Momma/Uncle/ Granny/Madam/Sir

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Englishmypassion, Jul 13, 2015.

  1. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    Hi there,
    What I know about capitalization in such cases is that when I use "dad, father, papa, mom, mother, momma, uncle, granny, etc" to (directly) address my parents/relations, I should capitalize the first letters, but when I use them as third person while talking to someone else, I should not capitalize the first letters. Am I right?
    Examples:
    1. I am sorry, Dad/Papa/Father. (I think Father isn't usually used as an address for one's dad, and I know Father also means a priest/ God.)
    2. I am sorry, dad/papa/father isn't home.
    3. How are you, Mom/Momma/Mother/Uncle/Granny? (I think Mother is also not used usually as an address)
    4. Liza, where is mom/momma/mother/uncle/granny?
    Are the first letters of sir and madam/ma'am also capitalized when we use them to address someone, e.g. a student to a teacher: "May I come in, Sir/Ma'am?"

    Thank you very much.
     
  2. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Capitalise it if it is used like a name, ie an 'appellative' used as a 'vocative' - in other words to address someone:

    I'm coming, Mum!

    Your examples 1 and 3 involve vocatives.

    When it is used as a common noun with an article, capitalisation is not necessary.

    Therefore, 'Where's Mum?' (used like a name) but 'Where's my mum?'
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2015
  3. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    Thank you very much. I thought only a direct address needs capitals, but I see I should capitalize them whenever I use them without a determiner.
    What about sir/ma'am?
     
  4. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    They should not be captialised except if they are part of an 'official' title (mainly religious) or part of a name.

    A: "If you want to get married, go to the church and talk to Father Murphy." -> "Father" is the proper title for an RC priest. (Likewise Mother Jane is the title of an abbess, and 'Brother' and 'Sister' are the titles for any members of many religious communities.)
    B: "In the story 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears', Daddy Bear is the one who becomes annoyed first." <- Daddy Bear is considered a name.
    C: "In the Brer (dialect for 'Brother') Rabbit stories, the narrator is Uncle Remus." Brer and Uncle are considered part of the name.

    I have seen both. The capitalisation is there as a visible mark of respect, and not for grammatical reasons.
     
  5. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    Thank you, Paul. I fully get your point, but I can't decide now which style to choose as "more correct".
     
  6. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    This is the trouble: there are no rules, only guidance which is flexible and subject to discretion. I don't think that anyone would become upset in cases such as Natkretep quotes if e.g. 'mum' were capitalised or not, but uncaptialised names and titles do upset people.

    As far as capitalisation because of respect is concerned - it doesn't hurt to do it, does it?
     
  7. DonnyB

    DonnyB Senior Member

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I'm not sure it's a matter of "correctness" at all, but more a question of style and personal preference.

    I always capitalize the vocative (direct address), but I'd also write something like "We often went to the saside with Auntie Alice and Uncle Ted". On the other hand, I woudn't if writing "My aunt and uncle often took us to the seaside. I suppost it boils down to whether you regard something like "Mum" as a proper name, but not "my mum".
     
  8. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    You are absolutely right, Paul, but my problem is that I have to use that in books and then explain the reason for using that to nitpicking colleagues, readers and pedants and provide a rule for something for which no rule exists:(. But, thanks a lot for explaining it in detail.


    Thank you very much, DonnyB. I got the point.
     
  9. ayuda?

    ayuda? Senior Member

    http://grammarist.com/spelling/mom-or-mom/
    You capitalize family names when they make a specific reference to that person, and it is capitalized like any proper noun.
    A proper noun is a noun that names a specific, usually one-of-a-kind item, and is capitalized all of the time—for instance, when you are using Dad instead of his name, Peter.
    If there is a pronoun or article before the family word [e.g., a, the, my, his, etc.], you don’t capitalize it. In that case, it is considered being used in a more general sense as a common noun.
    [See the link above for more explanation and examples]
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2015
  10. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    Thanks a lot for your answer and the link, ayuda.
     
  11. ayuda?

    ayuda? Senior Member


    Tip: Google>Search>capitalization of sir> [See first entry]
    http://grammarpartyblog.com/2013/02/18/when-to-capitalize-sir-and-madam/
    sir and madam/ma'am
    I think this link says it rather well.
    Sir [capitalized] should only be used in a British [or other country’s?] honorific sense, e.g.,
    Someone had talked to Sir Walter Scott, who has a title—Thank you, Sir.
    Otherwise, it is not capitalized in a direct address.
    [See link for explanation and examples]
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2015
  12. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    Thanks again for your trouble, ayuda. You have been really helpful.
     
  13. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    Nainital
    India - Hindi
    What about "sister" and "brother"?
    Hello Brother/brother, I am fine here.

    Hi Sister/sister, how is Dad?


    What about the relations "son", "daughter" etc which stand for people younger than the speaker?
    How are you, Son/son?
     
  14. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Post #9 seems to answer your question.

    Age has nothing whatsoever to do with it.
     
  15. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, if 'Son' is your term for your son, you should capitalise it: 'I'm coming, Son.'

    If 'son' is a general term of address for any young male person, you shouldn't; it is no different from 'friend' or 'mate' or 'old chap' etc.
     

Share This Page

Loading...