Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Capitalizing Family Relationhips

I’ll organize this one like Jeopardy: first the answer and then the question, which was asked by a friend who was editing a book.

Answer: When my uncle.... When her mother.... Then my pop.... When Uncle Don.... When Mother came down.... Then Pop would take us....

Question: When do you capitalize references to relatives?

You don’t capitalize the statement of relationship (“my uncle….” “her mother….” “Then, my pop took us….”

You do capitalize your relatives when you are referring directly to the person as a substitute for the actual name. “When Mother (Mrs. Sue Gibbon) came down stairs….” “Then Pop (Mr. George Gibbon) would take us….” And, of course, “When Uncle Don…..”

To be practical, if you put a word like “my” (possessive adjcectives--my, your, their, her, his, etc.) before the relative (“I called my mother”), you don’t capitalize. When you refer directly to the relative, without “my” or “her” or “his,” you do capitalize. “I called Mother.”

Tip: Keep a record of examples for quick reference. For example: Capitalization: "I called my dad to come in a hurry." "I called Dad to come in a hurry." The example is probably all you will need to remind yourself about how to solve this problem. Rays.

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