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Capitalizing can be tricky, especially when family’s involved. Of course, all first and last names should be capitalized—that’s a no-brainer. But, like any family, throw in some aunts, dads, cousins, and possessive nouns, and suddenly things get a bit more complicated.
When should you use lowercase?
If the common noun name is preceded by a possessive pronoun.
Example: She’s going to have a talk with her mother.
Example: His father likes playing BINGO.
Similarly, when using terms of endearment, lowercase the nicknames.
Example: I’m jealous of his relationship with his mom (mama, momma, etc.).
Example: My dad (pop, papa, etc.) is the best!
When do you capitalize the common noun name?
If the common noun is used as a substitute for the person’s name.
Example: She’s going to have a talk with Mother (Mom, Mama, Momma, etc).
Example: He likes playing BINGO with Father (Dad, Pop, Papa, etc).
Or, if the common noun is used as a title.
Example: I’m so excited about Cousin Jill’s bridal shower!
Example: They attended Grandma Bryan’s funeral.
By following these basic capitalization guidelines, you can rest assured that no one in your common noun family will feel slighted or improperly identified. And hopefully, all your family get-togethers will be drama- and mistake-free.
Photo by Daniel Y. Go
QUESTION: Which other grammatical rules do you struggle with?