Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Art of Capitalization

I enjoy reading. Not just enjoy - LOVE! It's probably my favorite pastime. I regularly read multiple books at once, usually on my Kindle app. Unfortunately, there is an epidemic of poor grammar, spelling and punctuation in many of the self-published books available. If you want to publish a book - great! Get your work edited (preferably by someone who knows what they're doing) before publishing, though!

In kindergarten, most students start the year writing their names, and most other words, with all capital letters or a mix of capital and lowercase. As the year progresses, they learn that their names should be capitalized, but only the first letter. They learn that 'I' is always capitalized; and they learn to not have random capitals in the middle of their words and sentences.

In self-published books, I see many poorly worded sentences and misused words, but one book I read took me back to kindergarten, where the author should have learned to correctly use capitals. She had problems with word usage too, but I just want to address the capitalization right now. It bothered me enough that I actually wrote a review on Amazon. And promptly got yelled at by another reviewer for only giving 3 stars because of grammar. That wasn't the only reason I gave it 3 stars, but poor grammar detracts from my enjoyment of a book. It brings me to a screeching halt so I can try to figure out what the heck the author is trying to say.

The capitalization errors were actually minor compared to some of the other mistakes, but it was interesting because I'd never seen anyone make this particular error so dramatically. You're probably saying, 'Get to the point, already!'

Here it is: The words mom, dad, mother and father are ONLY capitalized when used as proper nouns, as in the place of a name or in direct address, and NOT when used as common nouns.

For example:
     Yes - I told Mom that she should buy the dress.
     No - I told my Mom that she should buy the dress.

     Yes - I want Dad to come with me.
     No - I want my Dad to come with me.

This author capitalized mother and father EVERY TIME she used them. and that was a lot of times. The book was about a family so 'my Mother' and 'my Father' were on nearly every page! Halfway through the book I was ready to scream, but I did like the story enough to finish the book and even read the next couple in the series. The author did fix some of her mistakes in the following books.

It's a fairly straightforward rule. If you can replace mom, dad, mother or father with a name, capitalize it. I return to my previous example. If I replace mom with Kate (my mom's name), does it make sense?

     I told Kate that she should buy the dress.
     I told my Kate that she should buy the dress.

The first one makes sense but the second doesn't.

That is all.

pLease capItaliZe Your senTenCes CorrEctlY!