Capitalization Rules in English Grammar


Hello there!

English is full of rules and capitalization is no exception. But it’s crucial that you understand proper grammar rules in order to communicate effectively. Even with autocorrect and fancy apps, there’s no substitute for knowing how to write correctly, especially if you decide to use a typewriter, which is incompatible with all versions of autocorrect and spellcheck.

First up: The first word in a sentence and first word after a colon, but not after a semicolon should be capitalized. For example: “The man stopped suddenly: He had spotted something unusual.”

You also capitalize the pronoun “I,” always. Even when texting!

Proper names, like titles, company names, names of places, sports teams, political groups, etc, also get capitalized.

When you’re referring to your relatives, such as your Aunt Marge, you also capitalize those names, but only when you’re referring to a specific person, not the person as a relative. For example: “Mom and Dad are coming to pick me up.” versus “My dad works at an insurance company.”

You also capitalize the names of God and holy books, but like the relative rule, you don’t capitalize non-specific references: “They worship the god of their vanity.”

Titles preceding names are capitalized, but usually not when they’re used as descriptors: “Mayor Bob Jones” versus “Bob Jones, mayor of Huntsville.”

When using a compass direction to describe a section of the country, you capitalize it: Northeast, Southwest, etc. But when you’re writing “…drive two miles north and turn west onto Highway 10,” you don’t capitalize the compass points.

Days of the week and holidays are capitalized, but not seasons, unless the season is used in a title: “Ralph Lauren Fall 2017 Collection”

Countries, languages, and nationalities are capitalized.

The first word in a direct quotation is capitalized as well.

And for a confusing rule, in book or article titles, you capitalize all the major words except short prepositions or articles, unless the article is the first word. Like in the title : “The Catcher in the Rye”.

While generic centuries don’t get capitalized “the twenty-first century” you capitalize certain historical periods: “Reconstruction, Victorian Era, Middle Ages, etc”

I hope this video was helpful! Be sure to check out our channel for more videos explaining grammar and English.



by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: October 17, 2019