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Do I need an article in the phrases:

"I gave money to a/the dad".

"When a/the son was conscripted to the military, I became concerned for his life."

etc.

5

"Dad" is quite a personal word, you use it when referring to your own father or the father of someone you know. Although it's grammatically correct to say "the dad", it sounds a bit strange using a personal word without referring to an actual person. You would either say "his dad", or "the father":

"I gave money to the father"

"I gave money to my dad"

You don't need an article for "dad", since it's also a proper noun. But the only time you would use it is when you're talking to someone inside your immediate family:

"I gave the money to Dad"

The same applies to the word "son", except unlike dad/father we don't have an impersonal word for "son". The reason it sounds strange to say "a son" is because the word implies a relationship with someone, so you need to introduce them in the sentence:

"When her son joined the military, I became concerned for his life."

"John has three children; when the son joined the military, I became concerned for his life."


Note: You wouldn't say:

"I gave the money to Son"

If you're the father talking about your son to a family member, you call them by their first name. The only time "son" is a proper noun is when you're talking to your son:

"I gave the money to you, Son"

"I gave the money to my son"

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  • Why do u capitalize the "Dad"?
    – Anixx
    Feb 3 '15 at 15:54
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    @Anixx - when it's capitalized, it's used as a proper noun, and hence does not take an article. P.S. A nice point, Mark, which I missed! Feb 3 '15 at 15:55
  • Proper noun??? Can u please give some references where "dad" is used with capitalization?
    – Anixx
    Feb 3 '15 at 15:55
  • How do u define then "proper noun"? Why u do not capitalize the word "son" when u claim u use it as "proper noun"?
    – Anixx
    Feb 3 '15 at 15:57
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    @Anixx Calling someone "policeman" or "officer" is like calling them "sir". You don't know their name so you're using their job title instead. If I knew the policeman's name, let's say it was John Smith, I would call them "Officer Smith". Note that the word "Officer" is capitalized because it's part of the proper noun.
    – Mark
    Feb 3 '15 at 16:03

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