Should "brother" be capitalized in this sentence?


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Thread: Should "brother" be capitalized in this sentence?

  1. #1

    Should "brother" be capitalized in this sentence?

    Should "brother" be capitalized in the following sentence?

    1a) "The younger brother went to the store."

    1b) "Younger brother went to the store." (I know this is an odd way of saying something, but theoretically speaking...)

    I've always been a little confused when to capitalize with mother, father, brother, etc. My general understanding is that you capitalize it when you're using the term in place of a name, as in, "I'm going to the store, Mother."

    Does this mean, you need to be addressing the "mother," "son," etc directly for it to be capitalized?

    ---

    Also, should you capitalize the words "son," "sibling," and "baby" as well in the following examples?

    2a) "Come on, son."

    2b) "Come on, sibling."

    2c) "Come on, baby."

    2d) "Here comes the son."

    2e) "The sibling is coming."

    2f) "That one is the baby."
    Last edited by cinderblock; October 3rd, 2019 at 06:51 AM.

  2. #2
    You only capitalize these words when they are used as proper nouns.

    In "The younger brother went to the store." 'brother' is an identifying label, not a proper noun (assuming the person does not go by The Younger Brother as a name). Basically, you could switch it for person/man/woman/etc and you wouldn't capitalize that, right? No, so it shouldn't be capitalized as a name.

    In "Greetings, Brother." you could capitalize it as brother in that case is being used in place of a name. Same with "Hi, Mom, how are you?"

    There are some gray areas with this, some dependence on customs, I believe. I have certainly seen "I asked Dad whether I could go" capitalized and non-capitalized, but you would never correctly write "I asked my Dad whether I could go" because the my ​- like the - defines the person's father by what he is, his relationship to the POV character, not who he is.
    Last edited by luckyscars; October 3rd, 2019 at 09:41 AM.

  3. #3
    I suppose it can be capitalized when the brother (or other family member) in question is a prominent character who is never explicitly named, usually in stories from a first-person perspective (for example, "Mother" in Gerald Durrell's autobiographical novels, who is never referred to by name). Alternatively, "Brother" can be capitalized if it is a title, such as for a member of a religious community.

  4. #4
    I've always had a great deal of trouble with this one, but I think Lucky hit the nail on the head. If it's used as a proper noun, I capitalize it, such as "Hi, Mother," as opposed to "My mother."
    Last edited by J.T. Chris; October 3rd, 2019 at 07:49 PM.

  5. #5
    Also, there are times when the words are used as titles, often in religious connections e.g. Mother Teresa, Father Ted . Some religions refer to members as Brothers and Sisters: Brother Smith or Sister Wilson for example.


  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Istine View Post
    Also, there are times when the words are used as titles, often in religious connections e.g. Mother Teresa, Father Ted . Some religions refer to members as Brothers and Sisters: Brother Smith or Sister Wilson for example.
    Personal favorite religious figure: Br'er Rabbit.

    Quote Originally Posted by cinderblock View Post
    Also, should you capitalize the words "son," "sibling," and "baby" as well in the following examples?

    2a) "Come on, son."

    2b) "Come on, sibling."

    2c) "Come on, baby."

    2d) "Here comes the son."

    2e) "The sibling is coming."

    2f) "That one is the baby."
    No and here's (I think) why: Even though some of those examples (the ones that don't begin with the) resemble proper nouns they aren't considered as such because the reference isn't to the name so much as the characterization.

    "Come on, son" could be interpreted as a proper noun however the use of 'son' in most contexts would be as a descriptive, a title, for what the person is to whomever is speaking NOT as a name. When a father says "Come on, son" they aren't using son with the intent of that being the name of the person (or nickname) but rather they are reflecting on what that person is to them - i.e their son. Same reason "Come on, dog" wouldn't usually be capitalized either, 'dog' is not being used as the dog's name even though it sounds like it could be. If the dog did go by 'Dog' as a name, that's different.

    But 'Mom' and 'Dad' are used in place of names. We refer to simply "Mom's high heels" or "Dad's crusty S&M magazine" where we would NOT refer to simply "Son's high heels" or "Daughter's crusty S&M magazine" - it would be "My daughter's crusty S&M magazine"

    In other words, Mom/Mum/Mother/Mama and Dad/Pa/Papa/Daddy/Father are both unique as titles, because they do become de-facto names.
    Last edited by luckyscars; October 4th, 2019 at 06:09 AM.

  7. #7
    I think that with the 'Mother' scenario, capitalization of Mother would definitely be fine. I also think that the brother in 1b, would probably be like you have it, no capitalization. With "son", "sibling" , and "baby." I would write it with no caps. There may be differing opinions on this but that is how I would write it.
    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
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    Okay necro thread, but it's a good thread.

    IMO 'brother' should have a capitalized first letter if it's used to address somebody's name, example: Brother Evan.

    Same thing for other word, for example, boss. It should be 'Boss'.

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