Hi,

I have a question: if you talk about a relative using his/her name, do you use a capital letter to describe the relationship of the relative or not?
For example "I'm waiting for my Aunt/aunt Mary."
New Member01
No you don't have to use capital letters there.

I'm waiting for my aunt Mary.

Lets take a look to this list Emotion: winkwhen use capital letters
  • the first word of a sentence or fragment
  • the name of a day or a month
  • the name of a language
  • a word expressing a connection with a place
  • the name of a nationality or an ethnic group
  • a proper name
  • the name of a historical period
  • the name of a holiday
  • a significant religious term
  • the first word, and each significant word, of a title
  • the first word of a direct quotation which is a sentence
  • a brand name
  • a Roman numeral
  • the pronoun I
Byebye Emotion: smile
Junior Member59
'I am waiting for my aunt Mary' would be fine with some. If, however, you always refer to her with the title, I would capitalize. [" Hello, Aunt Mary, how are you?"] ["Aunt Mary died last year".] I always used the title when talking about her or to her. Using the possessive makes the capital less important to me.

Since I don't use the title with my siblings, I would say, "My brother Bob went to Paris last month".
Veteran Member19,584
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Whether or not you should capitalize the descriptive title of a relative (mom, dad, aunt, uncle, et cetera) depends on how it's used. They are typically used as common nouns, but can be also used as proper nouns. When used as proper nouns, they need to be capitalized.

How do you know when they are being used as proper nouns? If they are used in place of another proper noun, such as the individual's name. This happens most often when the relative in question is being directly addressed. A quick and easy way to test whether or not to capitalize is to substitute the title of the relative with their name and see if the sentence still makes sense. If you can, then you are using the word as a proper noun.

In the example, given I would say that "aunt" should not be capitalized. The reason for this is the word "my". "Aunt" is not being used as her name, but merely as a description of her relationship to you. Omit the word "my" and the sentence sounds odd unless you are trying to be poetic or sentimental; in English people don't generally precede proper names with possessive pronouns. "Aunt" and "uncle" can be difficult, because when they are used they are most often followed by the individual's name. To illustrate my point however, I am going to refer to "Aunt Mary" (notice the capitalization) simply as "Aunt". In that case the two options for the original sentence would be:

"I'm waiting for my Aunt."

and

"I'm waiting for my aunt."

Hopefully, this makes it clearer why the second option is best. "Aunt" is not being used as a proper noun. To say so would be essentially the same as writing:

"I'm waiting for my Mary."

While that wouldn't technically be incorrect, it would definitely sound odd, as I noted above. So generally speaking, if a relative's title is preceded by a possessive pronoun, don't capitalize it.
Regular Member611
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I forgot to welcome you to the forums, Casei. Emotion: left hug

You will notice that not everyone agrees 100% on every question, but this is an excellent source of advice.
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Upon further reflection (and reading Philip's post), I'm going to contradict what I said earlier. First of all, if you were to follow my original advice, the sentence should have a comma and read as:

"I'm waiting for my aunt, Mary."

The simple truth however, is that you seem to want to refer to her not as "my aunt, whose name is Mary", but simply as "Aunt Mary". What I said before still holds true, but as I also said, aunts and uncles are tricky. In reality, English speakers do use possessive pronouns to refer to people when a relative title is used as part of a proper noun. So while you will almost never hear someone refer to "my Mary" or "my Joe", it would not be surprising to hear reference to "my Aunt Mary" or "my Grandpa Joe". So, it's still true that you should not capitalize a relative's title if it's preceded by a possessive pronoun (e.g. "my mom" is correct, "my Mom" is not), such titles used as part of a proper name are an exception.
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