Monday, July 7, 2014

The Least You Should Know - Capital Letters

Capitalize: To write or print in capital letters (Webster's II New Riverside Dictionary)

Seems simple enough, right? But, which words are capitalized and which are not, and how do you know the difference?

So, here in this post, we'll answer the what, why and when to capitalize.

Here are seven rules on Capitalization.


1. The first word of every sentence.

The horse ran through the field.

2. The first word of every direct quotation.

She said, "I've wondered about that."

"They don't think about how water is found," he said, "and I can tell it doesn't make a difference." (The  and is not capitalized because it does not begin a new sentence.)

3. The first, last, and every important word in a title. Don't capitalize prepositions, short connecting words, the to in front of a verb, or a, an, the.

What a Horse Owner Needs to Know

"The Night the Earth Stood Still"

4. Names of people, places, languages, races, and nationalities

Grandmother Jones
United States
Latin American

5. Names of months, days of the week, and special days, but not the seasons

Fourth of July

6. A title of relationship. If it takes the place of the person's name, but not otherwise. If my (or a similar word) is in front of the word, a capital letter is not used.

I know Father will want to go.     but   I think my mother will come.

I'm sorry, Grandmother.     but    Our grandmother is 60.

He visited Uncle Henry.      but   She visited her aunt.

She phone Mother yesterday.      but   He phoned his dad.

7. Names of particular people or things, but not general ones.

I spoke to Professor Lawrence.       but   I spoke to the professor.

We sailed on the Mississippi River.      but   We sailed on the river.

Are you from the Northeast?      but   We turned east.

I take Art 101 and Spanish 102.      but   I take art and Spanish.

I went to Bayview High School.      but   I was in high school ten years ago.

He goes to Phoenix University.      but   He is going to the university now.

Have you figured out Capitalization?  If you have further questions, please put them in the comments below.

I hope you've enjoyed this "The Least You Should Know" series. This is the last session. Next week we'll open up a discussion about what you'd like to learn more about with writing and how I can meet those needs.


  1. They should teach some of your posts this way in school...easy to understand rules to follow!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Michelle. I try to make my posts simple so that everyone can understand and hopefully apply to their writing. Maybe even pass it along to someone else.

  3. I always get mixed up with seasons. I see them capitalized a lot!

    1. Rabia, that's one that mixes up a lot of people. No caps on seasons.

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