Should "aunt" be capitalized in this sentence?

Jan's aunt Cindy took a ceramics class.

Should it be - Jan's Aunt Cindy or Jan's aunt Cindy?

  • 4
    No, the word is being used as a simple noun, not as a proper name.
    – Barmar
    Apr 1, 2022 at 22:49
  • 1
    When I was growing up names like "Aunt Eileen" or "Uncle Fred" were routinely used both for relatives and for neighbours. If you needed to clarify whether the person taking the class was Jerry's Aunt Cindy or Jan's Aunt Cindy the capital letter would be appropriate. You would not capitalise in "Jan's aunt, Cindy, took a ceramics class".
    – Peter
    Apr 2, 2022 at 4:03
  • 1
    Looks like this is probably a duplicate of On the capitalization of familial honorifics
    – Laurel
    Apr 5, 2022 at 15:29

3 Answers 3


If you could replace “Aunt Cindy” with a proper noun (e.g., simply “Cindy”), then it would be fine to capitalize it:

Jan's Cindy took a ceramics class.

That might be acceptable in some contexts, but certainly not usually. It would be more common to write “aunt” in lower case:

Jan's aunt Cindy took a ceramics class.

In this case, “Cindy” is in apposition to “Jan’s aunt”.


You generally only capitalize "aunt" and "uncle" when they're being used as part of a proper name. For instance, when writing a letter, you might start with "Dear Aunt Cindy". Or when referring to her among your siblings, you could say "Aunt Cindy is recovering well from her operation."

But in the phrase "Jan's aunt Cindy", it's not being used as a name, it's just describing the relationship", so you don't capitalize it.

You can see similar style with other family relationship words. Referring to a parent, you would write "Hello, Mother" (capitalized because you're using it as her name) but "I got money from my mother" (lowercase because you're just describing a relationship).


The sentence would also make more sense if you inserted some commas:

Jan’s aunt, Cindy, took a ceramics class.

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