Saturday, June 20, 2009


Leona asked when we'd capitalize "dad":

In direct address ("Dad! It's Father's Day! I'm taking you out for ice cream!"), you capitalize "dad"-- when it's a name substitute, and a name is a proper noun (name or title) and capitalized.

But with "his dad" and "my dad", "dad" is a substitute for the common noun "father," so no cap.

Just depends-- it's the usage that matters, not the word. If it's used as a way of addressing someone, as you would use a name or nickname, capitalize.

This website has information on correct use of capitalization.

Good luck!


Sylvia said...

Oh, I've been struggling with this with queen. Queen Sophie is clear but then fall over when it comes to talking about queens: I need to tell the queen, Sophie is my queen, have you spoken to our queen...

So if it works like mayor, it is only capitalised when it directly precedes the name. That limits me to one example where I'm unsure:

"I want to speak to King Lee"
"You mean Queen! Lee is a woman."

Actually, my instinct is that it's still lower-case. Yes?

Edittorrent said...

You're right with your examples. And the dialogue you have is a special case, as it's repeating (well, amending) something said before, and in that case, it was that title before the name (like Dr. Adams or Vice President Jones). So it's capitalized, because after it is the elliptical (missing) name. It would be sort of like shouting after her: "Hey, Queen! You forgot your crown again!"

But probably in your case, Queen would be italicized, as it's a "word as a word" so you have to emphasize it.


em said...

That is a great link Alicia! Thanks!:)

Sylvia said...

That makes perfect sense. Thank you :)

Jenny said...

Thanks for this. I recently edited a student creative writing journal and came across this constantly. Particularly with mums and dads. The other eds were confused too. I am glad I stuck to my instincts!

Leona said...

Thank you! I need to start trusting my instincts more. It's when I over think and go against my instincts (or I'm not paying attention!)that I screw up.

I've bookmarked the site for when my handbook isn't handy :)