Honor Parents, But Do It Right

Happy parentsEvery spring, we’re bookended by holidays that honor parenthood: Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May, and Father’s Day is the third Sunday in June.

Some people, wanting to show respect for parents, always capitalize any form of mom or dad.

Regardless of our desire to demonstrate that we respect and cherish our parents, there are times to capitalize and times to use lower case. Here is a simple guideline:

If a parent’s name could logically be substituted for mom or dad in your phrasing, use capitals. If not, use lower case.

I told Mom I’d be home by midnight.
I told Jean I’d be home by midnight.

I told my Jean I’d be home by midnight.
I told my mom I’d be home by midnight.

If Dad wants me to practice driving, I’m ready to go.
If Frank wants me to practice driving, I’m ready to go.

If my Frank wants me to practice driving, I’m ready to go.
If my dad wants me to practice driving, I’m ready to go.

I hope everyone expresses appreciation to parents not just on these special holidays, but throughout the year. Conveying gratitude to your mom and dad is a message that always is appropriate and appreciated.

Bonus Tip
This capitalization guideline applies to relatives as well. Consider these examples for grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. You capitalize the word when it is used as a title that appears just before the person’s name:

My grandma and grandpa just arrived.
Grandma and Grandpa just arrived.
Grandma Joyce and Grandpa Jim just arrived.

His aunt and uncle live nearby.
His Aunt Becky and Uncle Josh live nearby.

I intend to call my cousin in Houston.
I intend to call Cousin Aaron in Houston.

Kathy Watson
Follow me

Kathy Watson

Kathy has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)

Follow Me: LinkedIn  Twitter  G+
Kathy Watson
Follow me
Like it? Share it!
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail