Why can we use 'dad' and 'mom' standalone, but should use a pronoun or an article with 'father' and 'mother'? For instance when brother and sister are speaking.

  • Do you understand mom?
  • Do you understand your mother?

'Do you understand mother' sounds like bad English.

The same works for other examples:

  • Give dad this book.
  • Give your father this book.

'Give father this book' sounds really bad.

  • Who are they? Kins? Siblings? Friends? Whose mom/dad? Unless you put 'your,' it can't be said whose mom/dad you are talking about. It has least to do with which word you are using!
    – Maulik V
    Apr 6, 2018 at 9:42
  • 1
    This is a nuanced matter. Don't trust your ear here. It's possible for a stranger or near stranger to ask "And how is mom doing?" when they wish to express solicitude. It is often "bedside manner" for a nurse or doctor to speak this way, but it could be said by someone on a train platform with whom one has struck up a conversation. And some families are more formal than others, and say "Father" and "Mother" instead of "Mom" and "Dad". You'll have to ask Mother. or Mother, where's my blue hoodie?
    – TimR
    Apr 6, 2018 at 11:16
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo So, Father and Mother are formal but correct with no pronoun? Apr 6, 2018 at 14:16
  • Grammatical as terms of address, certainly, though fairly rare in family contexts (usual when addressing people in religious orders). Grammatical as role-names within family, yes, but fairly rare compared to the informal "Mom" or "Ma" or "Mum" and "Dad" or "Da' ".
    – TimR
    Apr 6, 2018 at 14:27
  • 1
    I think the only difference is that you would likely use your in formal or heated situations. For example, if a mother is scolding her child, she might say "Wait until your father gets home!" Using dad vs. father, etc. has more to do with accepted usage in a family group.
    – user3169
    Apr 6, 2018 at 20:55

2 Answers 2


The words dad/father and mom/mother can be used without the pronouns your, my, or our only in conversations between the family members. In this case, they should be capitalized:

Do you understand Mom?

Do you understand Mother?

Give Dad this book.

Give Father this book.

  • Somehow Father and Mother sound really odd, whereas Dad and Mom sound okay. Apr 6, 2018 at 9:58
  • Not odd at all, just more formal. You see the construction (give Mother/Father) all the time in British English, usually associated with upperclass people.
    – mklingen
    Apr 6, 2018 at 19:26

The words mom/dad in your examples sound as bad as mother/father without "your" to me. I think you understand the words mom/dad as "my/your mother/father" in your perspective while the fact that all of these words (mom/dad/mother/father) are just nouns that should have a pronoun to make it more specific so that the others can understand which or whose mom/dad/father/mother you are talking about.

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