If I have a sentence, "No, dear, you should not." which is dialog second-person, does "dear" stay lower-case? It seems so, even though you would say, "No, Father, you should not." when the father is being directly addressed by his son or daughter. (What about "No, dear Father, you should not."?) Also, should I say "No, m'lady, you should not." when, again, Lady So-and-so is being directly addressed? Again, it would be "No, Countess, you should not." I'm confused.

  • Essentially another duplicate of When should "doctor" be capitalized?: 'It's always capitalised when used as a prestigious title. 'The Doctor meets his old enemy, the Meddling Monk'. It's just rarely used as a prestigious title in everyday usage. However, Jane Straus, at GrammarBook.com conceded: 6a 'Capitalize a formal title when it is used as a direct address. The more formal the title, the more likely it is to be capitalized. Examples: Will you take my temperature, Doctor? We're sorry to ... Jul 3, 2018 at 16:49
  • report, Captain, that we're headed for choppy waters. That's what you say, mister. Good afternoon, sweetheart.' There are less clear-cut cases; 'father' may be left uncapitalised . I'd say that 'dear' would rarely be capitalised. You can check for usage with M'Lady and Countess. Jul 3, 2018 at 16:51

1 Answer 1


Capitalization is for formal titles or names. Dear, honey, sweetheart, and the like are all endearments, not proper names or titles. Father/Mother, when spoken by children are capitalized, because that is the parent's title (or their name, as far as some children are concerned). "m'lady" is a way of addressing someone with deference, but is not a formal title like Lady or Countess.

This may help: http://excellenceinediting.blogspot.com/2012/08/to-cap-or-not-to-cap-that-is-question.html

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.