Im confused because well people say that sometimes you use a capital letter in mom and dad. So when do you use capital letters for mom and dad?

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    You should use capital letters for mom and dad when you're writing to them. But not when you're speaking to them. – John Lawler Mar 5 '15 at 16:07
  • @Josh61: I'm sure I've noticed this before on your dup CV's. When I CV as a dup, the system automatically posts a "Possible duplicate of XXX" comment, where XXX = the original question title. How come your comment just shows the link address? – FumbleFingers Mar 5 '15 at 16:21
  • @john: If you were blind and had to use a screen reader, might you not want it to have the ability (customisable, if not as default behaviour) to explicitly mention the fact of you being directly addressed with a non-standard lower case usage? Not here ( god forbid! :) but you might well want to be aware of situations involving a possible lack of respect easily accessible to sighted readers. – FumbleFingers Mar 5 '15 at 16:27
  • But then it's not your usage that's at issue; it's somebody else's. And you can't do anything about that, so it doesn't matter. – John Lawler Mar 5 '15 at 16:50

You would capitalize them whenever you are using the word as a name.

Johnny, Mom said to go wash up before dinner.

You would not capitalize them whenever you are using the word as a noun.

Johnny, your mom said to go wash up before dinner.

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You use capital letters when there is no determiner, whether vocatively or otherwise:

  • Have you had your tea yet, Mom?
  • Is Mom here yet?
  • I asked Mom whether she’d had tea yet.
  • Has Mother Teresa had her tea yet?


  • Is your mom at home?
  • I asked my mom whether she’d had tea yet.
  • Do all moms have a safe place to nurse?
  • Few mothers superior make a habit of it.

Likewise with Dad, Father, Papa, Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle, Aunt — and so on and so forth.

That’s because you’re using it as a proper noun. When it is part of a title, you still use it:

  • The new vicar’s no Father Brown, that’s for sure.
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You use the capitalized versions when you are using them in place of a name. Compare "Is dinner ready, Mom?" to "Is dinner ready, John?" However, when "mom" or "dad" is used as a regular noun, it's not capitalized: "John's dad said that dinner was ready."

This can be seen in other words, too, such as captain, president, and queen--they're capitalized when they're used to address or name people, but not when they're used as descriptions. So you have President Obama, the president of the United States. Likewise, you would say someone is the captain of a ship, but you would address him as "Captain."

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