In my language there is an older form in which you use kinship term in the middle of a sentence, in which normally you would use "you". Here's how this would look translated to English

Normal -> "Dad, why do you think it's a bad idea?" (second person)

Older form -> "Why does Dad think it's a bad idea?" (third person)

They both mean the same thing in my native language. My question is, does the second form actually exist in English as a form to refer to your dad while talking with him?

  • 3
    It wouldn't be wrong grammatically, but it sounds extremely patronising unless the father needs addressing in 'kiddispeak' because he is suffering for dementia, say. Though one could switch from addressing mum say to dad mid-sentence using these words. May 20, 2020 at 10:16
  • 1
    I am not familiar with any such usage in English. I can imagine, in a pinch, someone speaking that way in a kind of affectionate, ironic twist, but that usage would not be specific to family members. If it isn't indiscrete to ask, would you mind telling us what your native language is? It would be interesting to know where this is a custom. May 20, 2020 at 10:17
  • 2
    @EdwinAshworth - re third-person 'kiddispeak', or illeism - as a child, and as a parent, I have always found the practice distasteful and annoying. "Mummy doesn't want you to make a mess with your toys", "Daddy doesn't like Johnny banging on the window", etc. Nick Luxmoore in Psychology Today seems to agree with me. May 20, 2020 at 11:46
  • 1
    If you were going to do it you should say "father", not "dad".
    – Hot Licks
    May 20, 2020 at 12:23
  • 2
    Well, it would be customary and respectful to speak in the third person when addressing royalty, though not parents. Does Her Highness disagree? May 20, 2020 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


You could use the second form when talking to your dad if you were being sarcastic or meaning it in another humorous way, but only if your tone indicated humour and was understood by your dad.

Without that understanding it would most likely come across as rude and patronising. In normal conversations you would always use the first form.

  • This has already been said; to include it in an 'answer' (I'm not sure the question belongs on ELU myself), reasonable research showing that this is not purely opinion should be shown. May 20, 2020 at 11:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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