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We’re sure YOU know when to capitalize “mom” and “dad,” but we’re betting many of your family members or social media followers don’t. For those of us who love words, that can be like fingernails on a chalkboard. Here are some easy tips to help your friends get it right!
Capitalize Mom and Dad as a Proper Noun
When you’re referring to a specific person, you may be using the proper noun form. In this case, you would capitalize the words “mom” and “dad.” One easy way to tell if a word is a proper noun is to substitute the word for a person’s name. If it makes sense, then it’s a proper noun.
Easy Ways to Tell Not to Capitalize
Don’t capitalize “mom” and “dad” if
- the word is preceded by “my,” “your,” or any other possessive adjective,
- the word is preceded by “a” or “the,” or
- you are referring to moms or dads in general.
“My dad is the smartest dad in the whole world.”
“I have a surprise for you,” Mom said.
“That’s when Dad came home with a box of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.”
“Your mom and my mom were talking, and Mom said we will visit for the holidays.”
“But, Mom!” she whined.
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Let us know below if you have any questions about how to capitalize “mom” and “dad.”
I think in my following example, that “mom” (in the last line) is what you refer to as “moms or dads in general.” Therefore, not capitalized. A bit of odd usage, so not sure.
But good guys were slim pickings. Callie hadn’t met anyone of interest for several months. Most were wannabe hipsters with ridiculous man-buns and high-water pants—as her grandmother used to call them—or they were unemployed and lived with mom while they explored their options.
What if dad is an adjective? I’m writing about a question my dad used on me and then I say:
My own children will tell you I have used this dad question on them.
I wouldn’t capitalize in that instance. Like with the term “dad jokes” it becomes an adjective. You could argue that you mean a specific dad, but unless you are using his actual name, it should be more general. Also, in this instance “this” is acting as an article, and we never capitalize dad after an article (for instance, “the dad” and “a dad”).
This was very helpful.
John interviewed his mom.
Should mom be capitalized?
No, “mom” would not be capitalized in this example:
John interviewed his mom.
What if I’m referencing their name. EX: “this is my mom, Kim.” I feel like mom should not be capitalized since the proper noun is present, but can you confirm what MLA / APA thinks?
In this case, “mom” is not capitalized, because it is preceded by the word “my.”
If, on the other hand, you were to say “This is Mom, Kim,” then “mom” would be capitalized because the word “my” isn’t there. (Now, that would certainly be weird to say since “my” is generally used when you’re talking to someone who doesn’t have the same mom, but you wouldn’t introduce your mom that way to a sibling!)
is it, I am Jack’s mum or I am Jack’s Mum?
It would be “I am Jack’s mum.”
If I say my, I, mom dad or my sister or a character or them me it gotta be capital.
When Emma was born, mom and dad gave her the tiny room next to theirs . do mom and dad need to be capitalized?
Yes, they would be capitalized in this example because they can be substituted by names.
What if it’s ‘I took a bagel from the basket mom had set out’
“Mom” would be capitalized in this example.
What if the possessive adjective is implied? “Mike introduced Sally to (his) mother and father.”
“(my) mother and father are in the kitchen.”
As long as you can replace “Mom” and “Dad” with a person’s name, then the word is capitalized, even if the possessive adjective is implied.
“Mike introduced Sally to Deborah and George.”
“Mike introduced Sally to Mother and Father.”
“Deborah and George are in the kitchen.”
“Mother and Father are in the kitchen.”
What about “brother” and “sister”? can they be capitalized?
The same rules apply to “brother” and “sister.” If the words are used in place of a person’s name, then they would be capitalized (although “brother” and “sister” are rarely used this way, so it’s not something you’ll often see).
“What do you think, John?”
“What do you think, Brother?”
Your explanations are awesome! I enjoyed.
Could I ask you my problems in grammar?
You’re the best teacher I’ve ever seen!:-D
I am having a discussion with a small magazine who is publishing a short-story I wrote. They have changed sentences like this: “You can go to school, too,” Mom said, to “You can go to school, too,” mom said. To me this is incorrect, but they say it can be written either way. (They are probably right, but it looks so wrong to me, and goes against what I have always understood as correct.)
Thank you for your input on this!
Every style guide I know of, including Chicago and AP, says you should capitalize “Mom” if it takes the place of a proper noun, like a name. That’s what is happening in your example, so “Mom” should be capitalized (it wouldn’t be capitalized if you said “my mom”). You may want to ask this magazine to cite what current style guide and page number they are pulling this “rule” from, because it doesn’t sound like they know what they’re talking about…
Thank you for your reply! They insist it can be either way, but I also cannot find justification for this anywhere . I like your idea, to ask them to show me where they get this ‘rule’ from (I’m having friendly conversation exchanges with them.) I did ask them to print my stories using upper case for Mom, Dad, Grandpa, etc., when used as a proper noun, because I don’t want my stories written incorrectly.
Thanks for the tips!
Just a little typo: she whined, not wined.
Thank you for pointing that out. I just fixed it.
Thanks for the catch!
Hi, can u please help me with this – If I have to write Merlin’s Mum. Will “m” of Mum will be capital or small??
It would not be capitalized because it has a possessive pronoun before it (“Merlin’s,” which would be the same as saying “his mum”).
HOW ABOUT PAPI