When explaining to someone learning French when one has to use vous (the “formal you” pronoun) or tu (the “informal you” pronoun), there is a basic rule of thumb I find useful:

  • Vous — Used when speaking to people you usually call by their last name, title, or occupation.

    for example: Ms Smith, Sir, Doctor, Officer...

  • Tu — Used when speaking to people you usually call by their first name, nickname, or [? some word or phrase meaning informal/familiar family nickname ?].

    for example: Georges, G-dog, Grandpa...

I’m trying to find a word or short phrase to describe “family nicknames” like Dad, Nana, etc., preferably one that doesn’t include the more formal versions like Father, Grandmother, etc.


terms of endearment (also includes sweetie-pie, cupcake, turtledove and the like)

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  • 2
    I think that's not what is being asked. Mum, Dad, Nan, Pops are not 'terms of endearment'. – Nigel J Oct 18 '17 at 20:01
  • 1
    Terms of endearment not limited to enamorment, although many of the first examples you will see in dictionaries are of that nature. The term however is broader in that it covers all those that endear us or are dear to us. – James Oct 18 '17 at 21:09
  • Also includes those phrases as in loving memory, loving father, beloved daughter etc on tombstones. (Although more accurately "endearments".) – James Oct 18 '17 at 21:12

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