Your Mom Knows How to Capitalize

When it comes to capitalization, you can find lowercase and uppercase words across the board depending on what style guide you use, what genre of literature, or basically just how you feel. But not all capitalization rules are correct, and not many are easy to remember.

And the rest just don’t make any sense.

Case in point: Why, according to the Chicago Manual of Style, the word Relator is always capitalized but in some cases president isn’t. Confusing.

There is, however, one rule that’s easy to get straight once you know it: when to capitalize words like mom, dad, aunt, and uncle. To best illustrate, check out the following examples:


My mom is the best cook.

I love it when my mom cooks.


Mom is the best cook.

I love it when Mom cooks.

What’s the difference?

In the first example, mom is lowercased because it’s being used after the word my. In the second example, Mom is being used in place of her name. You will notice the “my” is not in the sentence.

Here’s another example:

Lowercase: My dad has black hair.

Capitalized: Why does Dad have such black hair?

The same rule can be applied to the words aunt and uncle. When these are used as a name, it’s capitalized. When used after words like “my” or “our” or “the,” use lowercase.

My aunt Emily is coming to visit.

Her name is Emily. The “my aunt” part is just a descriptor. But look at what happens when we do this:

I love it when Aunt Emily comes to visit. 

Now you are using “Aunt Emily” as her name, so aunt is capitalized.

I hope that makes sense! Leave a question in the comments if you’re still confused!


3 thoughts on “Your Mom Knows How to Capitalize

  1. I write Political Action Suspense Thriller Novels. It is really a sub-genre, but I might have started it. President or president, it is a problem. Mister president but I am referring to a fictional president, which I made up and not THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT. Should it be capitalized when referring to the Fictional American president or any president of a country, real or made-up – the country?

    • That is a tricky one. Even though you are not referring to the American president, if it is the president in your book, the capitalization rules are the same. Example: The president of (Insert Country Name Here). Or, Who is the new president? Or, He is the president. [Lowercased] BUT: He is President Richard. [Capitalized]. When you are using the word “president” as the name (like aunt or uncle), it is capitalized. Otherwise, lowercased. I hope that helps! It definitely can get confusing.

      • I thank you. I will try to keep it in mind, while I write. I kind of known, but there are those who teach; only in reference to the real and current United States of America President should be capitalized, both in fiction and in non-fiction. I will probably follow traditional rules.

Join the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: