Capitalization-English grammar

At first glance, the rules of English capitalization seem simple.

You probably know you should capitalize proper nouns and the first word of every sentence. But you also (sometimes) capitalize the first word of a quote.

Usually you don’t capitalize after a colon, but there are exceptions.

And what do you do when you’re not sure whether something is a proper noun?

What are the 10 rules of capitalization?

1. Capitalize the first word of a sentence--

This is one of the easiest, most straightforward rules of capitalization. Whenever you start a new sentence, capitalize the first letter of the first word. Simple as that!


  • This sentence is capitalized correctly.

2. Capitalize proper nouns and names--

A proper noun is a specific name for a person, place, or thing. These types of nouns should always be capitalized, no matter where they land in a sentence. Proper nouns include but aren’t limited to: companies, countries, cities, political parties, and religions.

Names should also be capitalized. That includes first, middle, and last names.


  • We are going to Yosemite National Park.

3. Capitalize the majority of titles--

Capitalization rules for titles can vary from style guide to style guide. As a rule of thumb, you should capitalize the first word of a title, verbs, adjectives, nouns, and of course, proper nouns. This leaves prepositions, articles, and conjunctions in lowercase. 


  • Cane went to the theater to watch The Year of Examples.

Tip: You should also capitalize someone’s title – like Doctor or Judge – if you directly address them, even if you leave out their name. 

4. Capitalize events and periods--

You will need to capitalize periods, eras, and specific events. However, centuries and century numbers should not be capitalized.


  • He is fascinated with the Middle Ages.

5. Capitalize “I” as a pronoun--

We’re all used to seeing words like iPhone, iPad, and iMac by now. You don’t have to capitalize the “i” in these words. It would look strange if you did and wouldn’t be grammatically correct. However, if the “I” is a pronoun, then it should always be uppercase.


  • Oney and I have a class together in the evening.

6. Capitalize any locations and direct addresses-- 

When a direction is part of a name, then you should capitalize it. For example, South Bend or Northern California. However, if it’s just a direction and not part of a name, then it shouldn’t be capitalized, like “turn east at the stop sign.”


  • The red car is parked on the North Main Street in Chicago

7. Capitalize family relationships--

When you use a word to indicate a family relationship, it should be capitalized if it’s used as a proper noun. For instance, “Grandpa” or “Uncle Bob.” However, if you aren’t referring to that person by name, then it wouldn’t need to be capitalized. For example, “my grandpa” or “our uncle.”


  • Aunt Bell used to teach us.

8. Capitalize months, holidays, and days--

The names of months, holidays, and days are considered to be proper nouns. This means they need to be capitalized.

Knowing this capitalization rule, a lot of people mistakenly capitalize the names of seasons. But seasons like winter and summer should NOT be capitalized. They are not categorized as proper nouns.


  • We had a party last May at the house.

9. Capitalize trademark names--

Trademark and brand names are typically seen as proper nouns. This means you’ll need to capitalize them.


  • Jill's favourite bottled water is Water Brand.

10. DON’T capitalize after a colon--

The final rule on our list is a little different. This one tells you when NOT to capitalize. In general, you shouldn’t capitalize the word following a colon. You aren’t starting a new sentence, so there’s no need for it.

However, there is an exception to this rule. If the first word following a colon is a proper noun, then it needs to be capitalized.


  • Oney"s favourite place to go on vacation:Florida




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