The Rules of Capitalization You Must Know!
- Grammar Lessons >
Overview of Capitalization:
- What Is Capitalization?
- The First Word in a Sentence
- Proper Nouns
- The Pronoun I
- Titles of People and Job Titles
- Kinship Names
- Days and Months
- Laws and Theories
- School Subjects
- Academic Degrees
- Capitalizing Titles of Books and Movies
- Period and Events
- Common Capitalization Errors
- Capitalization - Quiz
What Is Capitalization?
Capitalization is writing a word with its first letter in uppercase and the remaining letters in lowercase.
Ava, School, Home, Street
Capitalization is probably one of the most challenging topics in grammar. It is very common for English learners not to be sure about whether to capitalize a word while they are writing an important school assignment. In this lesson, we are going to outline the most common rules of capitalization you must know.
The First Word in a Sentence
Capitalize the first word in every sentence.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
My grandfather has a great sense of humor.
Real and Fictional People
Abraham married his long-time friend Martha.
One of my favorite characters is Aunt Polly.
Nationalities and Languages
The French played really well, but it was the British who won the game.
We are learning German.
Last week, we visited the Statue of Liberty.
The Chrysler Building is located in Manhattan.
Bodies of Water such as Rivers, Lakes, and Oceans
Have you heard of the Smith River?
The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world.
School, Colleges, and Universities
Gerald is studying at Dublin High School.
My sister has graduated from the University of Alabama.
The Pronoun I
Capitalize the pronoun "I" at all times. Don't capitalize other pronouns unless they are used at the beginning of a sentence.
I haven't met Mr. Johnson, but I have heard a lot about him.
Do you speak French?
Titles of People and Job Titles
Capitalize the titles of people.
This is Dr. Johns.
This was a contribution of President Lincoln.
Capitalize the main words in a title before the name.
We met Head of Marketing Michael Phelps.
Capitalize titles when used in direct address.
We would like to hear more from you, Head of Marketing.
Don't capitalize when the title follows the name, or the title is mentioned separately.
We met Michael Phelps, head of marketing.
We met the head of marketing.
Capitalize kinship names used in place of or along with a noun.
The toy was bought by Aunt Maria. (along with a noun)
We went to Uncle's house. (in place of a noun)
Capitalize them when used in direct address.
Please open the door, Mom. (direct address)
Days and Months
Capitalize days, months, and holidays.
Jenny was born on a Monday.
Our school opens in October.
Don't capitalize seasons.
Ashley is waiting for winter to start.
Laws and Theories
Capitalize only proper names.
Have you studied Newton's third law?
Capitalize the names of language subjects.
Richard passed his French test.
Mia couldn't attend her Chinese examination.
Don't capitalize other subjects.
Noah is a little weak in math.
Allen came first in the chemistry test.
Capitalize academic degrees when the full name of the degree is used.
Jordan has completed Bachelor of Arts in English.
Don't capitalize general references.
Emily will finish bachelor's this year.
Capitalize the abbreviations of academic degrees.
Dad has a Ph. D in law.
Capitalize most abbreviations.
Allen works for the FBI. (The Federal Bureau of Investigation)
Dad heard the news on the BBC. (the British Broadcasting Corporation)
This is a PDF file. (printable document format)
Capitalize the first word of a quotation when it is a complete sentence.
Carl said, "Please help me with the new lesson".
Don't capitalize partial sentences used as quotes.
Mrs. Anderson said the program was "a whiff of fresh air".
Capitalizing Titles of Books and Movies
Capitalize the first word and last word in a title even if it is an article or a preposition.
I just finished reading After the Funeral.
Capitalize nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
Have you read In Search of Lost Time? (noun and adjective)
The presentation was called How to Sell Well. (verb and adverb)
The book Know Your English was a game changer. (pronoun)
Don't capitalize articles, prepositions, or coordinating conjunctions.
Mom bought me a copy of To Write a Book in 30 Days. (article)
"Romeo and Juliet" is a great play by Shakespeare. (coordinating conjunction)
Oliver Goldsmith wrote The Vicar of Wakefield. (preposition)
Period and Events
Capitalize Names Referring to Historical Events, Specific Periods, and Eras.
Mike's great grandfather is a World War 1 veteran.
Thomas Jefferson was the American president during the Louisiana Purchase.
The Harlem Renaissance took place in early 20th century.
Don't capitalize the names of centuries.
The nineteenth century witnessed tremendous amounts of social change across the world.
Common Capitalization Errors
Don't capitalize common nouns for emphasis
Sometimes, people capitalize a certain word or bunch of words in a sentence when they want to show emphasis. This practice is wrong. If there is a need for emphasis, they can achieve it by using bold or italics.
This is The Most Famous Restaurant in the town. (incorrect)
This is the most famous restaurant in the town. (correct)
Don't capitalize the word after a semicolon
When a semicolon is used to connect two independent clauses, don't capitalize the first word in the second independent clause unless it's a proper noun.
The Millers will have a busy day this Sunday; They have three events to attend that day. (incorrect)
The Millers will have a busy day this Sunday; they have three events to attend that day. (correct)
Take a Capitalization Quiz Now!
Hone your skills using our free printable Capitalization Worksheets.