A Capital Idea!
The Uses and Rules of
It may seem simple, but…
• Almost everyone can tell you one rule
about capitalization….but it’s not as
simple as it seems…
• Can you name one capitalization rule?
• Now try to guess how many errors there
are in these examples…
1. Dr. Goldberger traveled through the Southern
part of pennsylvania to get to the
conference on victorian poetry.
2. "Wait," He said, "Until the Huskies have won a
few games."
How did you do?
1. Dr. Goldberger traveled through the southern
part of Pennsylvania to get to the conference
on Victorian poetry.
2. "Wait," he said, "until the Huskies have won a
few games."
Like everything in grammar, there are rules for
where to place capitals.
• Capitalize the first word of every
sentence -- unless that sentence is in
parentheses incorporated within
another sentence.
Ex: He crept into the room (without
making any noise) and crawled into
• Always capitalize the personal
pronoun I
Ex: “I thought I saw a puddy-tat,” said
Tweety, “I did I did saw a puddy-tat”
• Capitalize the names of family
relations when they are used as
substitutes for names:
Ex: I went to visit Uncle Ted and Aunt
Margaret. Grandma and Grandpa live
with Dad and Mom now.
My mom and dad went shopping
with my aunt and uncle.
• In titles, capitalize the first, last, and all
important words.
The Haunting of Hawthorne
The Giver
Gone with the Wind
• Usually, we don’t capitalize articles,
prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions.
a if
Proper Nouns
•Capitalize names of specific persons,
places, geographical locations as well
as time periods.
Ex: My brother Francesco, who used to
live in Montreal, Quebec and write
books about Ancient Egypt, now lives in
South Africa.
•But don’t capitalize directions:
Ex: I went up north, for the weekend. He
lives south of Papineau Street.
• Capitalize names of days of the week,
months, and holidays.
Ex: Valentines Day, which is always on
February 14, fell on Monday this year.
• But not the season:
Ex: Easter is a holiday in spring and
Christmas is a holiday in winter.
• Capitalize the names of historical
Ex: World War I and World War II took
place in the twentieth century.
• Capitalize the names of religions and
religious terms.
Ex: Christians, Jews and Muslims all
believe in one God.
Egyptians believe in many gods. The
god of water in Ancient Greek
mythology is called Poseidon.
•Capitalize the names of nations,
nationalities, languages, and words
based on such words.
Ex: Africa, Swedish, English muffin, Irish
stew, Japanese, Italian leather, French
•We usually don’t capitalize “white” or
“black” - There are very few blacks and
whites in this predominantly Asian
•Capitalize the names of academic
courses (subjects in school) when they’re
used as specific courses, usually they
are followed by a number.
Ex: David took Physics 101, but he did
much better in his economics and
English literature courses. He enjoys his
math, music, biology and Spanish classes
•Capitalize brand names…
Ex: Advil, Puma, Nike, Tide, BMW, etc.
•Capitalize titles when they come
before names, but not usually after a
Ex: Principal LaCroce and Viceprincipal Shetler were liked by the
The dean of mathematics, Mr. Smart,
was responsible for all the math tests
given to the students.
Other CAPITALIZATION resources :
1. Guide to Grammar:
2. Sentence sense:
3. Grammar Book:
1. http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/cgishl/par_numberless_quiz.pl/caps_quiz.htm
2. http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/exercise
3. http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/sensen/part1/six/caps

A Capital Idea! The Uses and Rules of CAPITALIZATION