The Rules of Capitalization You Must Know!

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What Is Capitalization?

Capitalization is writing a word with its first letter in uppercase and the remaining letters in lowercase.

Examples:

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.

Examples:

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

My grandfather has a great sense of humor.

Proper Nouns

  • Real and Fictional People

    Examples:

    Abraham married his long-time friend Martha.

    One of my favorite characters is Aunt Polly.

  • Nationalities and Languages

    Examples:

    The French played really well, but it was the British who won the game.

    We are learning German.

  • Building, Monuments

    Examples:

    Last week, we visited the Statue of Liberty.

    The Chrysler Building is located in Manhattan.

  • Bodies of Water such as Rivers, Lakes, and Oceans

    Examples:

    Have you heard of the Smith River?

    The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world.

  • School, Colleges, and Universities

    Examples:

    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.

Examples:

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.

    Examples:

    This is Dr. Johns.

    This was a contribution of President Lincoln.

  • Capitalize the main words in a title before the name.

    Example:

    We met Head of Marketing Michael Phelps.

  • Capitalize titles when used in direct address.

    Example:

    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.

    Examples:

    We met Michael Phelps, head of marketing.

    We met the head of marketing.

Kinship Names

  • Capitalize kinship names used in place of or along with a noun.

    Examples:

    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.

    Example:

    Please open the door, Mom. (direct address)

Days and Months

  • Capitalize days, months, and holidays.

    Examples:

    Jenny was born on a Monday.

    Our school opens in October.

  • Don't capitalize seasons.

    Example:

    Ashley is waiting for winter to start.

Laws and Theories

Capitalize only proper names.

Example:

Have you studied Newton's third law?

School Subjects

  • Capitalize the names of language subjects.

    Examples:

    Richard passed his French test.

    Mia couldn't attend her Chinese examination.

  • Don't capitalize other subjects.

    Examples:

    Noah is a little weak in math.

    Allen came first in the chemistry test.

Academic Degrees

  • Capitalize academic degrees when the full name of the degree is used.

    Example:

    Jordan has completed Bachelor of Arts in English.

  • Don't capitalize general references.

    Example:

    Emily will finish bachelor's this year.

  • Capitalize the abbreviations of academic degrees.

    Example:

    Dad has a Ph. D in law.

Acronyms

Capitalize most abbreviations.

Examples:

Allen works for the FBI. (The Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Dad heard the news on the BBC. (the British Broadcasting Corporation)

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Quotations

  • Capitalize the first word of a quotation when it is a complete sentence.

    Example:

    Carl said, "Please help me with the new lesson".

  • Don't capitalize partial sentences used as quotes.

    Example:

    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.

    Example:

    I just finished reading After the Funeral.

  • Capitalize nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

    Examples:

    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.

    Examples:

    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.

    Examples:

    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.

    Example:

    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.

    Example:

    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.

    Example:

    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)


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