I'm writing a novel. One of the characters is a U. S. born teenage boy (living in Texas) whose mother is Mexican.

Which of the following words would be more suitable for the boy to address his mom according to the context explained above?

  • Ma
  • Mamá

Note that the people who suggested me of using Ma say Mamá is all wrong and viceversa.

  • I have heard "Ma" and "Mamá." The people who suggest Ma say Mamá is all wrong. The people who suggest Mamá say Ma is all wrong. One person suggested Jefa, but told me it's kind of smart alecky. In the novel, the boy is 14 and not smart alecky. – user10986 Oct 8 '15 at 23:14
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    Mamá is the correct form – amchacon Oct 9 '15 at 0:28

In general, "mamá" is perfectly acceptable and the most common (I would say). However, "amá" or "ma" are very common among Mexicans as well, so nothing wrong with them either.

If I had to choose one of them, I would use "mamá".

  • Is mamy used in Mexico? It is the informal/afective favorite in Chile. – Rodrigo Oct 9 '15 at 13:32
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    @Rodrigo it is used mostly by kids, its rare hearing someone refer to his mother as mamy. Unless is the other "mamy" that refers to a hot girl. – luisluix Oct 9 '15 at 20:19
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    @Rodrigo Do note that the correct Spanish writing is mami. mamy is an anglicism and [merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suggestions/mamy](it is not grammatical) at that. – palopezv Oct 10 '15 at 20:28
  • @vorbote I thought I was using properly y in unstressed final sound i as in rey, estoy and sexy. Please point me the mistake. (I don't want to argue, is sincere, I don't know the rule). – Rodrigo Oct 11 '15 at 0:47
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    @Rodrigo you are simply confused about grammar and orthography and taking the second as if it were the first. When in doubt, always check first the RAE Dictionary and the Diccionario panhispánico de dudas second, then a Spanish grammar. FYI, the RAE launching the last DRAE edition in NYC was a message: Please USA speakers, don't create a rift like the one between Mandarin and Cantonese. The three words you mention are correctly written but make no grammar rule. :-) – palopezv Oct 23 '15 at 17:11

This question is really interesting to me. You are not saying anything about the father (if there is one) and that factor could influence too how the boy speaks.

I don't know Mexican culture well enough to be sure what the boy would say if both parents were Mexican, but it is interesting to me how people in the States say "My dad/mom ...". Never "My father/mother ...". They seem to distinguish between someone who is a father and someone who is a dad.

In Spanish (at least Spain) you would address them directly as "papá/mamá" but talk about them as "Mi padre/madre ...". Only kids would use the "Mi papá/mamá..." form to talk about them.

My bet is that the mother would teach this kid to call her "mamá". In his environment outside his home this kid would be hearing other kids using "my dad / my mom", which he would associate with "papá and mamá". For all these reasons I am pretty sure that this boy would use the form "mamá" to address directly to his mother when talking to her (and he would probably use "mi mamá" to refer to her to other people).

  • In Mexico people do say "mi mamá" and "mi papá." Occasionally one hears "mi padre/madre" but it sounds a bit stilted. – aparente001 Oct 18 '19 at 2:20

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