Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Editing 101 with Mama Bitchstress: Mother, mother

Very, very quick lesson today, folks.

When do you capitalize "mother" or "father"? When DON'T you capitalize? Is it all just RANDOM?

No, it's not.

First, let's talk nouns. There are two types: proper and common.

Proper nouns are nouns that are names of things, basically. People's names, towns, cities, brands, etc. They're all officially and they think they're better than other words, so we capitalize the first letter of the word.

Common nouns are general nouns--non-specific, non-names. They are your basic, solid noun.

I'm a writer named Skyla, and I live in a small town called Campbellford.
Also, I will punch you if you randomly capitalize Writer and Author (outside of the title of a piece) because you look like a douchebag when you do.

Some nouns can be both proper and common, and no, "writer" still isn't one of them. Mom/mom and Dad/dad, however, are.

It becomes a proper noun when you're using it in place of a name.

My mom once asked a cute guy in the checkout line at the grocery store for sperm so she could have grandbabies.
I'm talking about my mother, I use "my" before mom, therefore it's a common noun. I'm not using "mom" to replace her name in that sentence. (If you're unclear, try substituting a name: "My Heather once asked a cute guy..." See? Doesn't make sense.)

Here is the proper noun example:
OMG, Mom, why the FUCK would you ask a total stranger for his sperm to impregnate your daughter??
Some of you get what I'm talking about.
Replacing "Mom" with "Heather" works in this sentence--it's a proper noun because it's replacing one. And that's how it works with Dad/dad. And obviously Mother/mother and Father/father.

It is very common to get these two mixed up--I see a lot of seasoned writers do it. But it's a quick fix, so there you go.


  1. Per my 4th grade English teacher, possessive adjectives are a tip off, that it is NOT a proper noun. My, his, her, our...

    In general adjectives lean toward common, but can be proper.

    Bitchstress Mama can = Bitchtress Skyla, but doesn't have to.

  2. I never really thought on this. But yea, I can see how people would get confused with it. I like this one, and will have to watch for it.

  3. Cool. You should do more editing blogs, youze good at it. And I'm sure you see EVERYTHING.

  4. I have to agree with Adrienne. I really take these and try to remember them, or I come back to double check. :)


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