Should this sentence be "Shit, Rick, Man." Or should it be, "Shit, Rick, man." I am aware the sentence isn't great but please humour me! Also is it, "Hey, man!" or "Hey, Man!"


  • What has your research shown, and why do you distrust it? – Davo Jul 24 '17 at 10:54
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    “Shit, Rick, Man” isn’t a sentence; it’s just three nouns separated by commas, like “rock, paper, scissors”. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 24 '17 at 11:05
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: Even if not a proper sentence, we can still argue the correctness of "Rock, paper, scissors." compared to "Rock, Paper, Scissors". The latter is only accepted when referring to the game (as it is a name), not when e.g. listing things that are in front of you. (this is very analogous to my answer posted below) – Flater Jul 24 '17 at 11:11
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, I would take "Shit, Rick, man" to be synonymous with "Rick, my friend, what are you doing?", although of course the meaning, particularly, "Shit", is context dependent. It's a colloquialism I suppose. – Max Williams Jul 24 '17 at 12:35
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    Why should we humour you? What have you done to merit that? You've posted here without even finishing the introductory tutorial to find out what this site is about. You haven't demonstrated any effort to find the answer to your question yourself, so your question is not appropriate. – David Jul 24 '17 at 13:08

No capitalization, as "man" is not a given name in this context.

The only reason to capitalize "man" is to clarify that you are addressing humanity/mankind, as opposed to a single male human. An excerpt from an article which discusses the originally gender neutral definition of "man" to mean "mankind":

One interesting convention that was thought up in the early 1900s to deal with this issue of “man” coming to mean both male and female and also sometimes meaning males exclusively is, in literature, to do the following: when referring to humans, “man” should be capitalized as in “Man”; when referring to “man” as in “male”, it is to be left lower case.

This convention was used in such literary works as “The Lord of the Rings” and was a key point in the prophecy concerning the Witch-king of Angmar: “no man can kill me”, meaning that according to the prophecy a woman, Eowyn, could because “man” in the prophecy was not capitalized.

Today I found out

But it is a convention. As far as I'm aware, it is not an explicit grammatical rule.

The capitalization of "Man" (when referring to mankind) seems to stem from Man being a given name to our species. At least, that is my interpretation as to the justification of capitalization in the case of "mankind".

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  • This is not true. "Man" is being used as a proper noun here and thus should be capitalized. – Patrick Mar 29 '18 at 6:03
  • @Patrick That is only true in German, not English. "Man" is only capitalized in reference to mankind, which is not the case here. – Flater Mar 29 '18 at 6:27
  • "proper nouns are capitalized in English". blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2012/02/… – Patrick Mar 29 '18 at 22:18
  • @Patrick "man" is not a proper noun. Not when it's used to refer to a person. It is not a title, nor is it a nationality or any other regional designation. – Flater Mar 30 '18 at 6:10
  • "Man" is a proper noun here. Take this answer for example, "When you are using the word "Dad" to refer to a specific person, it's standing in place of their name, and thus, like their name, would be capitalized." Replace "Dad" with "Man" and you'll see the same applies. english.stackexchange.com/questions/44846/… – Patrick Mar 30 '18 at 16:45

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