Mother to/of

  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    That sounds about right to me... "of" would be biological, "to" would describe anyone who is acting maternally.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Paul, I think the answer to your question depends on ... context;)

    I'm not sure that "be mother to" implies acting maternally; "be a mother to", yes. Probably.
     

    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    Paul, I think the answer to your question depends on ... context;)

    I'm not sure that "be mother to" implies acting maternally; "be a mother to", yes. Probably.
    I don't have a specific context.
    I've heard some women say "I'm the mother of a beautiful baby" and some others say "I'm the mother to a beautiful baby"..
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't have a specific context.
    I've heard some women say "I'm the mother of a beautiful baby" and some others say "I'm the mother to a beautiful baby"..
    Ah, in that case, you simply have differences in personal preference... and the meaning is pretty clear in each that the mother is talking about her own child, whether by birth or adoption or maternal care. I don't think you're going to find out exactly unless you question them, which I wouldn't advise. :)
     

    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    Ah, in that case, you simply have differences in personal preference... and the meaning is pretty clear in each that the mother is talking about her own child, whether by birth or adoption or maternal care. I don't think you're going to find out exactly unless you question them, which I wouldn't advise. :)
    Thank you :)
    Would you use of/to interchangeably in that context?
     

    Nunty

    Modified
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I sometimes read introductions from American women in my lacemaking e-mail groups who often say either "I am married and the mother of three beautiful little girls" or "I am married and mother to Laney, Janey and Reiney."*

    In talking about someone else, I always say "mother of" if I am talking about an actual parent, and "mother to" in phrases like "she was always a mother to me" (where "she" is not my real mother), as Loob suggests.


    *(Assuming they have three little girls named... oh never mind.)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I sometimes read introductions from American women in my lacemaking e-mail groups who often say either "I am married and the mother of three beautiful little girls" or "I am married and mother to Laney, Janey and Reiney."*

    In talking about someone else, I always say "mother of" if I am talking about an actual parent, and "mother to" in phrases like "she was always a mother to me" (where "she" is not my real mother), as Loob suggests.


    *(Assuming they have three little girls named... oh never mind.)
    Nunty's examples are familiar to me.

    Note the differences between:
    I'm the mother of three beautiful little girls {I'm their maternal parent}
    I'm [no article] mother to Laney, Janey and Reiney {I'm their maternal parent}
    She was always a mother to me {she acted like my mother, but wasn't}

    To me the [no article] version sounds slightly literary - or tombstone-like.
     

    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    Nunty's examples are familiar to me.

    Note the differences between:
    I'm the mother of three beautiful little girls {I'm their maternal parent}
    I'm [no article] mother to Laney, Janey and Reiney {I'm their maternal parent}
    She was always a mother to me {she acted like my mother, but wasn't}

    To me the [no article] version sounds slightly literary - or tombstone-like.
    Thanks for your clarification :)
    Do you believe that "I'm the mother to" is just poor English or a mix of the two different constructions then?
     

    KenInPDX

    Senior Member
    US English
    I've never heard anyone in the US say "I'm mother to x" referring to her own children. At least in AE, it "mother to" would almost always be used in the context of referring to someone, probably not the biological mother, acting maternally toward someone.

    As an example here is a true story - a distant cousin of mine once sent his mother a card for Mother's Day which read "You've always been like a mother to me." His mother was rather upset!
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Do you believe that "I'm the mother to" is just poor English or a mix of the two different constructions then?
    Mmm, I'm not sure, Paul. "I'm the mother to..." sounds strange to me. I don't think it's poor English - just not very idiomatic in the varieties of English I'm familiar with.

    Postscript: I've just googled, and "I'm the mother to" gets ten times as many hits as "I'm mother to".
    So it's just me, then:(

    Post-postscript: Ah, not just me. Only one of the million "I'm the mother to" examples is BrE...
     
    Last edited:

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Note the differences between:
    I'm the mother of three beautiful little girls {I'm their maternal parent}
    I'm [no article] mother to Laney, Janey and Reiney {I'm their maternal parent}
    She was always a mother to me {she acted like my mother, but wasn't}

    To me the [no article] version sounds slightly literary - or tombstone-like.
    Exactly how I see it. :thumbsup:

    The mother [no article] to version reminds me of the line in Gladiator:

    Maximus said:
    My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.
    (source)

    It's perfect there because his speech is supposed to be eloquent, literary, old.
     
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