The K5 Learning Blog urges parents to be pro-active in helping their children reach their full academic potential.


K5 Learning
provides free worksheets, workbooks and an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.

K5 Learning Video Tour

Learn More about K5's online learning program.

Mom can be Both a Proper and a Common Noun

In a recent post we discussed the differences between a common noun and a proper noun.


In short:

-    A common noun is a non-specific person, place or thing.
For example: dog, house, oven

-    A proper noun is a specific person, place or thing.
For example: Fido, Burger King, Statue of Liberty


Are there cases, though, where a noun can be both a proper noun and a common noun? Yes, there are.

Is it Mom or mom?

When to use a capital letter is tricky, especially when it comes to family nouns, such as mom, dad, aunt, cousin, grandma.

 

mom


When you should use lower case letters: mom

A good tip to work out if the noun is a common or proper noun is to look at the word that comes before it. If that word is a pronoun or an article, don’t capitalize the noun. It will be a common noun.


For example:
I love that dog.
Will you ask your friend to come play?
Her dad likes to play tennis.

When you should capitalize the first letter: Mom

If the noun is used as a substitute for the person’s name, you should capitalize the first letter of that noun. Let’s say your mother’s name is Angela. If you can easily replace the noun with her name in the sentence, the noun should have a capital letter.


For example:
I will have to talk to Mother about dinner on Sunday.
I will have to talk to Angela about dinner on Sunday.


Also, if the noun is used as a title, the noun becomes a proper noun and needs a capital letter.


For example:
I’m excited about Cousin Joe’s barbecue on Saturday.
We are attending Aunt Susan’s birthday party.