Lesson: when to capitalize titles for family members
Today we’re going to talk about moms and dads and aunts and cousins and step-uncles and so on—all the people in your family—and whether to capitalize the first letter in the words we call them (the nice names like “sister” not like “jerkface”).
Let’s take a look at this sentence:
Hey, mom, are the cookies ready yet?
So, should the first M in mom be capitalized? The answer is yes.
Here’s another example:
I asked my mom if the cookies were ready.
Should this M in mom be capitalized? The answer is no.
Here’s the easy-to-understand rule: When you can replace mom (or aunt, sister, grandma, whatever) with the person’s real name and have the sentence still make sense, then you capitalize the first letter. If you can’t replace mom with the person’s real name and have the sentence still make sense, then it is not capitalized.
Let’s look at the sentences again, replacing mom with the name Phyllis.
Hey, Phyllis, are the cookies ready yet?
I asked my Phyllis if the cookies were ready.
Do you see how the second sentence doesn’t make sense when we replace mom with Phyllis?
Tip: Usually you will see someone’s relationship to the person in question in instances when the first letter shouldn’t be capitalized. Examples: her brother, my uncle, his friend’s step-sister.
Let’s look at two more sentences to make sure we understand this. Here, I will capitalize (or not) as is correct.
I don’t think, Dad, that you will ever understand how snakes slither.
My dad won’t ever understand how snakes slither.
Do you think you understand? Test your knowledge with this quiz. Look at the word in parentheses and decide if it should be capitalized. The answers are at the bottom.
- Yo, (sister), who gave you that black eye?
- I read on the bathroom wall that I should call your (brother) for a good time.
- Sometimes I think, (mom), that you are too obsessed with physics.
- Her (uncle) picks his nose.
- Did you read the blog post about princesses that my (cousin) wrote?
- I thought I saw you, (grandma), walk out of martial arts class.
1. Sister 2. brother 3. Mom 4. uncle 5. cousin 6. Grandma