1. Viridian

    Viridian Member Supporter

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    Should these words be capitalised?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Viridian, Nov 1, 2016.

    Quick question - when you're writing mum, dad, grandad, gran - should these words be capitalised? I'm thinking they should because it's just the same as using a name (isn't it?), and I have been capitalising them, but they keep looking odd to me so I thought I should check.

    Thanks :superthink:
     
  2. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Member

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    I capitalize when it's used as a name, so if a character is addressing their grandfather, they'd say "Get down from the chandelier, Grandad!" But if it's indicating a relationship or status, I don't: "He's my grandad. If you were wondering where my mental issues came from, they're clearly inherited from him. Put your pants back on, Grandad! Thank goodness your grandads aren't this bad."

    Of course, that's just how I do it. I could be wrong.
     
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  3. Unripe Plum

    Unripe Plum Member

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    They're common nouns, even when referring to specific persons, so I wouldn't capitalize them, just like I wouldn't similar words like "sis", or "dude" or "pal".
     
  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I agree with EE. If used as a nickname, capitalized. If used as a general descriptive noun, not capitalized.
     
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  5. DueNorth

    DueNorth Senior Member

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    EnginEsq is correct--and it is a hard and fast rule (not optional). When used as a name, Dad, Mom, etc. they are capitalized. When used to describe the relationship, as in "my dad," the word is not capitalized.
     
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  6. Scot

    Scot Senior Member

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    You're not wrong, that's the way to do it.
     
  7. 20oz

    20oz Active Member

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    I'd capitalize them if I replaced them with their names. "Did you talk to Dad?" "What do you think, Mom?"

    I think the only thing you should worry about is consistency. If you want to capitalize them, keep them capitalized throughout. Of course, there will be moments you won't want to do it, and it's fine. "She smiled at her mom."
     
  8. Viridian

    Viridian Member Supporter

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    Okay, thanks guys. That makes sense. Much appreciated.
     
  9. Bjørnar Munkerud

    Bjørnar Munkerud Senior Member

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    This is absolutely ridiculous. They're common nouns, for crying out loud! Where would it end? "She's my Boss.", "He's my Boyfriend.", "He's my family Doctor.", "She's my favorite Athlete."????? They all sound so stupid, unnecessary, illogical and impractical. This isn't German.
     
  10. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Member

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    Welcome to English. All the worst parts of every other language in the world stuffed into a blender, and then spread like a mental disease by first the Royal Navy of Great Britain and then the American entertainment industry. Weep for humankind, my friend. Weep.
     
  11. Scot

    Scot Senior Member

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    It may be ridiculous, but it is correct. (Though your examples are all wrong)

    Johny looked across at his mother, "Hey Mum! Where's my socks?"

    "I don't know dear. Have you asked you're brother?"

    "Oi Brother. You thieving git. You got my socks?

    When it comes to choosing my clothes I usually defer to She Who Must Be Obeyed, aka SWMBO.

    "Meet my sort off Auntie Joan," she's married to one of my maternal uncle's step-brothers.

    "He's a doctor. There he is over there. Hey Doc!"

    There are loads of synonyms for family and professional relationships. It's what you call them in dialogue that counts.
     
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  12. 20oz

    20oz Active Member

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    Writers are always trying to change their narrative style. For this story, Viridian may be capitalizing common nouns for a reason--it may fit her story better. In her next story, she may not.

    EDIT: Nothing wrong with breaking a few rules from time to time. Every writer who's been writing for a long time will tell you the same thing (unless it's only me :p).
     
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  13. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    She's my boss(1), you know, so I asked her. "Have you got anything for me to do, Boss(2)?"

    (1) Has boss uncapitalized because it IS a common noun; it could be any boss, anywhere.

    In the same way, I would not capitalize queen in the sentence She's not just any queen.

    And you could end up with She's not just any queen, she is the Queen.

    (2) Has Boss capitalized because it is being used as a name, thus is a proper noun.

    In the same way that you'd capitalize Turd? As in Hey, Turd, what do you think you're doing?
     
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  14. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Sometimes they're common nouns, sometimes they're proper nouns, depending on usage. So depending on usage, sometimes they get capitalized, sometimes they don't.
     
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  15. Bjørnar Munkerud

    Bjørnar Munkerud Senior Member

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    I apologize, but I can't take your advice on this seriously; for starters you forewent commas between "Hey" and "Mum" and "Doc", confused "your" and "you're" and misspelled the name "Johnny". To be frank, your grammar distresses me. There are far too many capitals in general, your punctuation makes virtually no sense and your overuse of line breaks irritates me ... oh, and, I hate the interjection "Oi!" ... It's not that you're not in your right to write like that, it's just that I can't in good conscience join this proverbial dark side (or is it Dark Side? (or Darkseid ... )) of yours. You might even be more correct than me according to most people and/or style guides, but I'd have motion sickness before long if I started typing like that.

    PS. How can my examples be "all wrong"? They're supposed to be incorrect in the first place; that's what they're supposed to be examples of!
     
  16. Bjørnar Munkerud

    Bjørnar Munkerud Senior Member

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    May I ask why?
     
  17. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    See my answer above...repeated here...

     
  18. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Member

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    To give native English speakers an unfair advantage over other people trying to speak this so-called "language." ;)

    You seem to have a highly egocentric approach to English grammar and style. I hazard that if I had the same attitude towards Norwegian, you'd be a bit irked with me. And understandably so.
     
  19. Bjørnar Munkerud

    Bjørnar Munkerud Senior Member

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    Are you trying to sneakily claim moral superiority by asserting that I am an ignorant foreigner to concepts of the English language? I'm a first language English-speaker, I'll have you know, and I don't think it's weird to have made up one's thoughts surrounding matters like these, particularly considering I'm an author, and because, as you may have suspected, I'm a rather opinionated fellow in the first place.

    As for Norwegian: live and let live. It's the same idea I expressed about English. People -- first, second and third language speakers alike -- butcher Norwegian all the time, too. There's a difference between the teensy everyday linguistic annoyances of people writing "wierd" and "awsome" and those who type in all caps or don't know what a paragraph is, phenomena that exist in most languages. That's who and what you represent to me. All I can add is that I apologize.
     
  20. Scot

    Scot Senior Member

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  21. Bjørnar Munkerud

    Bjørnar Munkerud Senior Member

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    I'm not saying there isn't any logic there, it's just that it's not actually an explanation, which I what I called for. I could also tell you you should capitalize female given names, but not male ones, but that doesn't make me right. Just as "film" is spelled the same way regardless of whether it refers to foil or a movie, a word referring to a person can be spelled the same way regardless of whether or not it represents someone specific or just a category of people. There's a difference between giving someone a (new) name and just referring to them by something they are. In the latter case you're not referring to any name they have been given by anyone; you're simply specifying who you're referring to and/or clarifying in what context you're addressing them.
     
  22. Bjørnar Munkerud

    Bjørnar Munkerud Senior Member

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    This has been going on too long, so I'll be brief. This is what I have to add.
    1. Yes, the commas are required.
    2. You're nephew's an idiot.
    3. I wasn't being ironic. I was merely exemplifying the ridiculousness of the logical conclusion of this policy. To me that seemed obvious, but hey.
    Cheers.
     
  23. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Because there's a difference between "Mom" - a nickname for my mother; and "mom" - a generic term for a maternal parent. If I make a nickname for someone named Richard, I'd capitalize "Dick". If I used the word as a generic insult, it'd be "dick".
     
  24. Bjørnar Munkerud

    Bjørnar Munkerud Senior Member

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    So, you've kind of set this issue up for yourself with this one: What if a wrote (in your style) "Hi, Dick!"? Could this then mean only that the person's called Richard, or also that he is a metaphorical phallus? Additionally, you didn't explain the "one is capitalized because they're different" issue, you just restated the same non sequitur.
     
  25. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    You know this isn't something we're making up, right? We're trying to explain an existing, fairly standard rule of English grammar. If our explanations aren't working for you, try the explanations at:

    https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/592/01/
    http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/when-should-you-capitalize-words
    http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/capital.asp

    or any other standard English grammar reference.

    (You may also want to look up the meaning of non sequitur...)
     

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