Mary Deal Gives us the Lowdown on Kinship Names

Kinship Names

 by

Mary Deal

Recently, several people asked me about kinship names. Of course, I would turn that into an article.

Kinship names are possessive determiners that show to whom the subject person is related.  When no kinship names are used, the subject’s name is capitalized. For example:

My mother came over.

Where are you, Mother?

In the first sentence above, My is the kinship names and identifies whose mother she is, so mother is not capitalized. In the second sentence, even though we seem to be asking a question of our own mother, we do not identify her as our mother. The subject person stands alone and is capitalized.

Here’s one exception. Some people would ask “Where are you, my mother?” Again, since the question uses the pronoun my to identify the relationship, mother is not capitalized.

A capital letter is not used on a pronoun whenever you qualify a person’s relationship by using kinship names like my, our, his, her, aunt, uncle, and so forth,. The capital letter is always used on a person’s proper name, however. No exceptions. Here are correct examples:

My aunt Marie came over.

When will Aunt Marie come over?

In first sentence above, My identifies her as being my aunt, so only her name is capitalized. The second sentence doesn’t state whose aunt she is, so Aunt becomes part of her name and both are capitalized.

Here are some examples with the correct version being the second usage:

Did mom and dad go home?

Mom and Dad went home.

Did your Mom and Dad go home?

Did your mom and dad go home?

Okay, dad, let’s get out of here.

Okay, Dad, let’s get out of here.

The simple solution to remember is that if no kinship is included to qualify a person’s relationship, then the title and name of the subject person in the sentence is capitalized.

You can find this information further clarified with  their own examples in The Chicago Manual of Style. In my 16th Edition, the section, Kinship Names starts at section 8.35 on Page 400.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.

 

About Mike Angley

Mike Angley is the award-winning author of the Child Finder Trilogy. He retired as a Colonel from the Air Force in 2007 following a 25-year career as a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). He held 13 different assignments throughout the world, among which were five tours as a Commander of various units, to include two Air Force Squadrons and a Wing. He is a seasoned criminal investigator and a counterintelligence and counterterrorism specialist. In his last assignment, he was Commander of OSI Region 8 with responsibility for all of Air Force Space Command. He’s fond of saying, “If it entered or exited Earth’s atmosphere, I had a dog in the fight!”
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