Today, we’re going to talk about when to capitalize titles. What I mean here is when to capitalize mom or dad, military ranks, honorifics, job titles, and so on.
You do capitalize a title when making a direct address (calling someone by “name”). You also capitalize a title that’s being used in place of a name.
How do you like Arizona, Mom?
Before the airplane took off, Dad stowed his bag under the seat.
I was not going that fast, Your Honor.
In each of these examples, you could sub out the title for a name.
How do you like Arizona, Suzanne?
Before the airplane took off, Tom stowed his bag under the seat.
I was not going that fast, Frank.
You do not capitalize a title when you are not making a direct address, when you would use the title to indicate a role.
My mom is in Arizona for the winter.
The lieutenant will hear about this.
The judge only sentenced me to a fine and community service.
Here’s how these would look if you tried to substitute a name.
My Suzanne is in Arizona for the winter.
The Tommy will hear about this.
The Frank only sentenced me to a fine and community service.
This should help you see how in the second set of examples, you would have to change the sentence to make it work with a name. That’s an easy way to tell whether or not to capitalize titles.
Want to hire Chris for a proofread or copy edit? You can find out more about him at https://saylorediting.wordpress.com, or you can email him to talk about rates and availability at christopher.saylor21 [at] gmail.com. You might also want to check out the book he co-wrote with Marcy, Grammar for Fiction Writers, available at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or Apple iBooks.