Capitalization

Hello, Write Owls. Welcome to Day 17 of Grammar 110. Today we’re talking about capitalization.

There are a lot of capitalization rules, but most of them come down to the same thing: capitalize names. This can be a person or animal’s name; the name of groups of people like nationalities, races, and ethnicities; an organization or business’s name; a class’s name if it’s a language or followed by a number; a location’s name; the name of heavenly bodies; a vehicle’s name; a structure’s name; an award’s name; a holiday or event’s name; the names of days of the week and months; the names of historical periods; the name of a theory or idea; and the names of religions, philosophies, and other schools of thought. Titles are capitalized when they take the place of a person’s name or are part of their name.

Examples:

Person/animal names: Joe, Sally, Fido, Smokey

Groups of people: Asian, American, Southerners, Hispanic

Organization/business: MSU Department of Psychology, Denver Broncos, Springfield Quilting Circle, Subway (the fast food chain, not the type of transportation) (With these names, make sure you capitalize them however the organization/business does.)

Classes: Algebra II, English 101, biology, American history, Spanish

Locations: Central Park, Florida, Antarctica, Guatemala, Congo Rainforest, Nile River, Himalaya Mountains, Southeast Asia, Perth (Cardinal directions are only capitalized if they’re referring to a region, e.g. I live in the West. “I am flying west” is an example of when you don’t capitalize the direction.)

Heavenly bodies: Jupiter, Ursa Major, Crab Nebula, Milky Way (Earth is only capitalized when it is used as the name of the planet. When referring to the ground, dirt, etc., it is not capitalized.)

Vehicle names: RMS Titanic, Subaru Outback

Structure names: Eiffel Tower, Temple of Inscriptions, Sydney Opera House

Awards: Nobel Peace Prize, Oscar, Grammy, Pulitzer Prize

Holiday/event names: Halloween, Spring Break, Cattlemen’s Days, Black History Month

Days of the week/months: Saturday, Thursday, January, October

Historical periods: the Renaissance, the Younger Dryas, Victorian Era

Theory/idea: Theory of Relativity, the American Dream

Religions: Christianity, Buddhist, Marxism

Titles: Grandma Betty, Professor Jones

Here are titles used in sentences:

I gave Dad a birthday present.

I love my dad.

Professor Jones teaches archaeology.

Mr. Jones is a professor.

How did I do, Coach?

Yes, Ma’am.

You also capitalize the pronoun I, titles, and the first word in a sentence or salutation. In titles, you capitalize most words with the exception of articles, conjunctions, and small prepositions (see my lesson on parts of speech here) unless those words start the title.

Examples:

He and I are going to the library.

Even I knew that.

The Hunger Games

The Count of Monte Cristo

Beauty and the Beast

That’s all I have on capitalization. Basically, if it’s a proper noun, the pronoun I, a title, or the first word of the sentence, it’s capitalized. That condenses about twenty rules into four. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments down below, and I will answer them either as a reply or in my Q&A on Saturday.

For practice, determine which words need capitalized in the following sentences. If you want me to check your answers, share them in the comments.

1. hey, mom, where did i leave the keys to the honda pilot?

2. jack, his dog dusty, and i travelled north to canada and alaska where we saw the rocky mountains, denali national park, and vancouver island.

3. has professor smith covered the chapter about mercury and venus in the beginner’s guide to astronomy yet?

4. they went to walmart to buy decorations and gifts for christmas, a christian holiday.

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