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English Capitalization Guidelines, With Examples

English capitalization guidelines require that sure phrases, like correct nouns and the primary phrase in a sentence, begin with a capital letter. Though that appears easy, some phrases are capitalized solely in sure conditions, and a few phrases seem to be they need to be capitalized however usually are not—how will you inform which is which?

On this information, we clarify how you can capitalize when writing and canopy all of the English capitalization guidelines. We additionally share a listing of what phrases have to be capitalized and supply a couple of capitalization examples. However first let’s speak slightly about capitalization typically.

English capitalization guidelines: When to capitalize

Understanding which kinds of phrases to capitalize is an important a part of studying English capitalization guidelines. Principally, there are three kinds of phrases you capitalize in English:

  • the pronoun I
  • the primary phrase in a sentence or line of a letter (e.g., Sincerely)
  • correct nouns

That final one, correct nouns, is the place a number of the confusion comes from. Some phrases, just like the title Albert Einstein, are at all times capitalized; nevertheless, others are capitalized solely in sure conditions and are lowercased in others. For instance, instructions like north and west are usually lowercased however are capitalized after they’re used as a part of a geographic title, just like the West Coast.

Let’s take a better take a look at what phrases have to be capitalized and when.

What phrases have to be capitalized?

Folks’s names

Each the primary and final names of an individual are capitalized. Likewise, center names, nicknames, and suffixes like Jr. are additionally capitalized.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Historic names that embrace descriptive phrases usually observe the foundations for title capitalization: Outstanding phrases are capitalized, however small phrases like the or of usually are not.

Ivan the Horrible

Maria of Aragon


Capitalization in titles is the place a number of capitalization errors come from. The title of any piece of labor—books, films, songs, poems, podcast episodes, comic-book points, and many others.—requires capitalization, however solely sure phrases within the title are capitalized.

What phrases have to be capitalized in titles? For starters, the primary phrase in a title is at all times capitalized. Nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs all have to be capitalized in titles as nicely.

Small phrases like articles and prepositions are usually lowercased, until they’re the primary phrase in a title. Nevertheless, some model guides have their very own preferences, so double-check you probably have any doubts.

The Catcher within the Rye

Of Mice and Males


For those who’re utilizing the title of a spot, capitalize it. This is applicable to all the things from tiny Deer Creek to the large planet Jupiter.

New York Metropolis

Lake Victoria

Understand that in case you are not utilizing the title of a spot however the common phrase to explain it, you don’t capitalize that phrase.

The Grand Canyon is an efficient canyon, however I wouldn’t name it “grand.”

International locations, nationalities, and languages

In English, international locations, nationalities, and languages are capitalized. Nation names fall beneath the class of locations, however by extension the names of the individuals who stay there and the adjective type of their tradition are additionally capitalized. This consists of languages.


a staff of Haitians

Haitian delicacies

Establishments (firms, manufacturers, businesses, and many others.)

The names of firms, manufacturers, businesses, and different massive teams like hospitals are additionally correct nouns. Some small phrases like prepositions should still be lowercased in such names.

Volkswagen Group

Financial institution of China

For those who’re referring to a division by its correct title, you may capitalize it. Nevertheless, in the event you’re referring to a common division, hold it lowercased.

“She works within the Psychology Division.”

“I didn’t even know our college had a psychology division.”

Historic eras

Capitalize intervals and occasions when referring to them by their particular title however not once you’re utilizing them as common phrases. If a time frame is called after a correct noun, capitalize the correct noun. The phrase for the interval is usually capitalized, as within the examples under, however different occasions it’s lowercased, as in the Victorian age.

European Renaissance

Islamic Golden Age

Typically, you do not capitalize the names of centuries as a result of they’re too broad.

the 20th century

Days, months, and holidays

In English days and months are capitalized as a result of they’re correct nouns.

the primary Sunday in April

When phrases like day or month are used usually, they don’t seem to be capitalized. Nevertheless, if they’re a part of a vacation title, they depend as a correct noun and are capitalized.

What day is Father’s Day?

Initials and acronyms

Initials and acronyms mix the primary letters of a number of phrases to make a brand new phrase. Sometimes, these use all capital letters.

WHO (World Well being Group)

UFO (Unidentified Flying Object)

Nevertheless, some acronyms are used so usually, they turn out to be separate phrases and use lowercase letters as an alternative. For instance, the phrase scuba began as an acronym for self-contained underwater respiratory equipment—now it’s a typical phrase by itself, so it’s spelled in lowercase letters.

Phrases which can be typically capitalized

Household titles

The capitalization of household titles is a complicated matter. Household titles like mother or uncle will be both correct nouns or frequent nouns. Briefly, capitalize them after they’re used as correct nouns however lowercase them after they’re used as frequent nouns.

I’ve to ask my dad.

Can I’m going to the films, Dad?

When household titles are used as frequent nouns, there’s normally an article (the, a, an) or a possessive noun (my, your, our, and many others.) in entrance of them. For those who see an article or a possessive noun, it means hold the household title lowercase.

My uncle hates after I name him Uncle Joe as a result of it makes him really feel previous.

Beginnings of quotations

One other complicated matter is capitalization in quotes. An important factor to know is whether or not the quote is an entire sentence or a sentence fragment. If the quote is an entire sentence, it begins with a capital letter, even when it begins in the course of the sentence.

Marie Antoinette by no means really mentioned, “Allow them to eat cake.”

If the quote is a sentence fragment, don’t capitalize it. That is commonest once you’re quoting solely a particular phrase or phrase as an alternative of a protracted passage.

The substitute instructor referred to as our class “goonish and unruly.”

After a colon

Capitalization after colons relies on what the colon is used for. If a colon is used to introduce a listing, don’t use capitalization.

Right here’s what we want on the grocery retailer: blueberries, strawberries, and whipped cream.

If the colon is used to introduce an unbiased clause, capitalization is elective. Nevertheless, completely different model guides have completely different preferences, so double-check with no matter format you’re utilizing.

There are many causes to plant a backyard: At the start, it’s a number of enjoyable.

When to capitalize seasons

Are seasons capitalized? On the whole, the seasons—spring, summer time, autumn (fall), and winter—usually are not capitalized. They use lowercase identical to different frequent nouns.

Final winter and spring had been so unhealthy, this summer time needs to be higher.

Nevertheless, usually seasons are utilized in titles, particularly in vogue. On this case, they’re a part of a correct noun, and so they’re capitalized.

Hermès’s Fall 2022 assortment was even higher than Prada’s Spring 2021 assortment.

When to capitalize job titles

Similar to the seasons, job titles, positions, or honorifics are typically capitalized and typically lowercased. When these titles are used as a part of a correct title, they’re capitalized; after they seek advice from the final job or place, they’re lowercased.

The subsequent president could also be from a distinct area than President Mujica.

Likewise, honorifics like Mr. and Ms. are capitalized when used earlier than a reputation.

English capitalization guidelines FAQs

What are the English capitalization guidelines?

The English capitalization guidelines require that the primary letter of sure phrases is capitalized. Particularly, the pronoun I, the primary phrase of a sentence, and correct nouns like names are capitalized.

What phrases have to be capitalized?

Some correct nouns may also be frequent nouns, so it’s troublesome to know how you can capitalize them. Typically, at all times capitalize the names of individuals, locations, titles of works, nationalities, languages, establishments like firms, historic eras, days, months, holidays, initials, and acronyms.

How do you capitalize job titles?

Job titles are capitalized after they’re a part of a correct noun like a reputation however lowercased after they’re used usually. Discover the variations on this instance: “The fourteenth prime minister of Australia was Prime Minister John Curtin.”



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