GRAMMAR: Capitalization Rules

The English language has some strange rules about when to use capital letters. Here are some important guidelines:

  1. Capitalize the pronoun I.
    Example: Jennifer and I went to the movies yesterday.
  2. Capitalize the first letter of the first word of each sentence.
    Example: Learning to capitalize correctly will improve your writing.
  3. Capitalize the first letter of names of people, organizations, and places.
    Example: Juan went on a trip to Tokyo, Japan for his company, General Motors Corporation.
  4. Capitalize the first letter of adjectives that are made from the names of people and places.
    Example: I like Mexican food.
  5. Capitalize initials
    Example: My brother’s favorite author is H.G. Wells.
  6. Capitalize the first letter of directions only when they are used to designate actual places, not when they point in a direction.
    Example: When we visited the Southwest, we actually had to drive north.
  7. Capitalize the first letter of the names of months and the days of the week.
    Example: My birthday will be on a Friday next June.
  8. Capitalize the official title of a person (including abbreviations), but only when you use it with the person’s name.
    Example: Did Clarissa recommend Dr. Montoya to you?
  9. Capitalize words used as names or parts of names.
    Example: Did Uncle George call my mom to tell her our grandmother is with Dad?
  10. Capitalize the first letter of important words in a title of a book, magazine, story, essay, etc.
    Example: I enjoyed Mark’s essay, “The Truth About Being a Good Student.”
  11. Capitalize historical events and documents.
    Example: The Emancipation Proclamation was issued during the Civil War.
  12. Capitalize the name of languages, races, nationalities, and religions.
    Example: I learned in Spanish class that several Hispanics are Catholic.
  13.  Capitalize acronyms. (An acronym is a word formed by the first, or first few, letters of words in a long name of an organization.)
    Example: CARE is the Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere.
  14. Capitalize initialisms. (An initialism is similar to acronym, but a word is not formed from the letters.)
    Example: The Central Intelligence Agency is simply known as the CIA.

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