Capitalization Rules

Capitalization means using a capital letter (for example, A instead of a).

Capitalization Rules

Always capitalize the following:

The first word in a sentence and the first word after a period

  • It is the first day of school.
  • He is my husband. His name is Phil. He is an engineer.

The first word in a quotation

  • She said, "They don't know what to do."
  • He asked, "When are we leaving?"

The pronoun I

  • This is where I was born.
  • Can I have a slice of cake?

The first letter of a proper noun (specific name)

  • My name is John Smith.
  • I was born in Brazil.
  • I went to Harvard University.
  • I drink Starbucks coffee.

The first letter of months, days, and holidays (but not seasons)

  • Today is December 5, 2014.
  • My dentist appointment is on Monday.
  • My favorite holiday is Christmas.
  • My favorite season is winter.

The first letter of nationalities, religions, races of people, and languages

  • I love to eat Chinese food.
  • I speak Spanish and German.
  • I believe in Christianity.
  • There are many Russian students at my school.

The first letter in a person's title

  • My doctor is Dr. Lopez.
  • Have you met Mrs. Lee?

Geographic areas: cities, states, countries, mountains, oceans, rivers, etc.

  • My favorite city is Boston.
  • I live in New York.
  • I was born in London, England.
  • We live near the Mississippi River.

The first letter of each major word in the title of a book, movie, article, etc.

  • Have you seen the movie Harry Potter?
  • Tolstoy's War and Peace is my favorite novel.

General Rule: Do not capitalize the word "the" before proper nouns unless "the" is part of an official title

  • We visited the Grand Canyon.
  • We have to fly over the Pacific Ocean.
  • The report came from The Associated Press.
  • My favorite book is The Great Gatsby,.

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