Do You Capitalize the Word “Uncle” In a Sentence?


do you capitalize uncle

Kinship is an integral part of our lives. However, in our bid to address them, we sometimes make some mistakes with our capitalization. But, this should not be the case. So, you are wondering, do you capitalize the word “uncle” in a sentence?

You need to capitalize the word uncle when you use it before proper nouns. This is also the case when you use it in place of the actual name in sentences. In this case, it functions as a proper noun. But, you should leave it in a lower case where you use it generically or as part of an apposition.

We bet you can tell this appears complicated. Well, it can seem so at first, thanks to the various rules and modifications to it. In this article, we will break it all down for your easy understanding.

word uncle spelled with black dices

Do You Capitalize the Word “Uncle” In a Sentence?

The first item on the table is understanding the rules guiding the capitalization of the word uncle within a sentence. Now, to fully understand this, we have broken down the rules into two categories. 

They are when you need to capitalize the word in a sentence. And when you should avoid its capitalization. Now, let us get right to it.

When You Should Capitalize the Word “Uncle” In a Sentence 

Now, the word uncle is a designation that shows the relationship of kinship between two persons. Some rules are guiding when to capitalize it. And they are as follows.

You need to capitalize the word when you use it before a proper noun. This rule is perhaps the simplest rule concerning the capitalization of the word. As you can tell, the general rule is to capitalize all proper nouns within a sentence.

Now, when you use the word uncle before a proper noun, it attaches itself to it. As such, in such an instance, it takes the form of a proper noun by relationship. In such an instance, what you need to do is capitalize it to maintain the correct usage.

You should also capitalize the word in a case where it takes the form of a proper noun even if it does not come before one. In such a case, by taking the form of a proper noun, the rule compelling proper nouns’ capitalization also applies. As such, you should capitalize it.

Keep in mind that this will occur where you use the word in a direct speech. In such a case, the title replaces the actual name. For instance, will you be around for the ceremony, Uncle? Here, the words designate a person acting as his name. Now that is why you must capitalize the word.

When You Should Not Capitalize the Word “Uncle In a Sentence

Now that we are clear on when to capitalize, our next focus is when not to. Keep in mind that this is as important as understanding when you should capitalize the word. So, now that we have cleared that up, what are the rules guiding non-capitalization of the word “uncle.”

Rule Regarding Generic Use of the Word

You should avoid capitalization in a case where you use the word generically. Precisely, in such instances, you have merely used the word as a common noun. Note that the general rule of English requires you not to capitalize common nouns. As such, refrain from the capitalization of the word uncle.

Rule Regarding Use of the Word as Part of an Apposition 

Now, this rule might appear somewhat tricky. But stay with us, and you will get the hang of it in no time.

You will recall that we stated that you should capitalize on the word “uncle” when it stands before a personal noun. Yes, that is in no doubt appropriate. However, in cases where the word occurs in an apposition, regardless of coming before a personal noun, do not capitalize. 

So, what does this mean?

An apposition occurs where two parts of a sentence are equivalent. Precisely, they pass the same information to the reader. In turn, eliminating one part of the sentence will not affect the structural integrity of the whole sentence.

For instance, the sentence: “My aunt Juliet will arrive for the ceremony with the gifts tomorrow” represents a good example. In this instance, “my aunt” and “Juliet” are apposite. So, if you were to remove “My aunt,” the sentence would still go on without any issue. 

You will have “Juliet will arrive at the ceremony with my gifts tomorrow.” This is also the case if you let go of the word Juliet. You will still have “My aunt will arrive for the ceremony with the gifts tomorrow.”

Now, this is the case with the word “uncle.” As soon as it functions in this line, due to the addition of “my” or other words, ensure you do not capitalize. And that is even if it appears before a proper noun.

Other words that might act like this include possessive pronouns like his, her, your, our, their, and my. Articles like a, an, and the can also play this role.

uncle and niece pose for photo

Alternative Rules

Now it is clear more than ever when you should capitalize the word uncle. And, of course, when to avoid capitalizing the word in a sentence. Now, we will address the next possible questions on your mind. 

Rules Regarding the Capitalization of the Word “Great Uncle”

Now, in some cases, the word “great” gets added as a prefix to uncle. In such cases, you will need to know how to capitalize the word. Well, we have got you covered. Here is what you need to know.

If the words are of the same importance, you capitalize the compound word when you capitalize the single word. In that case, both words function as one word in the sentence.

However, where they possess a distinct importance. For instance, when the word great functions as an adjective, different from the word uncle, you do not capitalize.

Rule Regarding the Capitalization of the Word “Aunty”

Now, when it comes to capitalizing the word “aunty,” this is what you should know. The word aunty also describes a relationship of kinship between two people. In turn, the same rules that govern the capitalization of the word “uncle” also cover the capitalization of the word aunty.

So, all you need to do is understand the rules above. Then, you should be able to grasp the capitalization of the word aunty easily.

Illustrative Examples 

Now that we have discussed all the relevant rules, we bet you have a better understanding of the rules. However, that might not be enough. As such, we have provided a list of illustrative examples that should help you out.

Rule 1: Capitalize When You Use It Before a Proper Noun 

Incorrect 

  • I believe speaking to uncle Mark is the next best action we can take 
  • I plan to see uncle Thomas when I visit Nevada in the coming week 

Correct 

  • I believe speaking to Uncle Mark is the next best action we can take 
  • I plan to see Uncle Thomas when I visit Nevada in the coming week 

Rule 2: Capitalize When You Use It Instead of a Proper Noun

Incorrect 

  • Do you think I should be in the play, uncle?
  • Please, uncle, let us leave this place at once. 

Correct 

  • Do you think I should be in the play, Uncle?
  • Please, Uncle, let us leave this place at once. 

Rule 3: Do Not Capitalize When You Use It Generically 

Incorrect 

  • I plan to visit my Uncle in California before the end of the year.
  • I do not intend to hear a word my Uncle has to say to me.

Correct 

  • I plan to visit my uncle in California before the end of the year.
  • I do not intend to hear a word my uncle has to say to me.

Rule 4: Do Not Capitalize When You Use It in an Apposition 

Incorrect 

  • I plan to tell my Uncle Jack that the event should not hold this year.
  • She did not like her Uncle Billy because he failed to sponsor her college education despite his wealth.

Correct 

  • I plan to tell my uncle Jack that the event should not hold this year.
  • She did not like her uncle Billy because he failed to sponsor her college education despite his wealth.

Rule 5: Capitalize the Word “Great Uncle” When They Both Have Equal Significance 

Incorrect 

  • I plan to visit my great Uncle Billy on my next visit to California.

Correct 

  • I plan to visit my Great Uncle Billy on my next visit to California.

Rule 6: Do Not Capitalize the Word “Great Uncle” When They Have Different Significance 

Incorrect 

  • I have a Great Uncle Jack who sends me money every month.

Correct 

  • I have a great Uncle Jack who sends me money every month.

uncle word in dictionary

Final Thoughts 

No doubt, you might have had issues understanding the capitalization of the word uncle. However, you are sure not the first and will not be the last. Still, what you can do for yourself is learn fast.

We have explained everything you need to know. So, read and enjoy.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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