4.5 Capitalization


This section of Ch. 4 will cover the following topics:

  • using capital letters

Knowing what to capitalize is not difficult: there are only a few rules.

Proper nouns are always capitalized. That is how we differentiate them from common nouns. The following table will give you a sense of the differences:

common noun Proper Noun
museum The Art Institute of Chicago
theater Apollo Theater
country Malaysia
uncle Uncle Javier
doctor Dr. Jackson
book Pride and Prejudice
college Smith College
war the Spanish-American War
historical event The Renaissance

The pronoun “I” is always capitalized.


The challenge is not understanding what to capitalize. The challenge is remembering to do it.

It’s time I settled down and found a job.

The first word in every sentence is capitalized.

Peaches taste best when they are cold.

Also, the first word in a sentence-length quotation is capitalized.

The college president asked, “What can we do for our students?”

The first, last, and main words in a title are capitalized.

I found a copy of Darwin’s book The Origin of Species at a yard sale.

That’s it. Pretty easy, right?

Exercise 1

Copy the following paragraphs into your notebook, correcting the capitalization.

david grann’s the lost City of Z mimics the snake-like winding of the amazon River. The three distinct Stories that are introduced are like twists in the River. First, the Author describes his own journey to the amazon in the present day, which is contrasted by an account of percy fawcett’s voyage in 1925 and a depiction of James Lynch’s expedition in 1996. Where does the river lead these explorers? the answer is one that both the Author and the reader are hungry to discover.

The first lines of the preface pull the reader in immediately because we know the author, david grann, is lost in the amazon. It is a compelling beginning not only because it’s thrilling but also because this is a true account of grann’s experience. grann has dropped the reader smack in the middle of his conflict by admitting the recklessness of his decision to come to this place.

the suspense is further perpetuated by his unnerving observation that he always considered himself A Neutral Witness, never getting personally involved in his stories, a notion that is swiftly contradicted in the opening pages, as the reader can clearly perceive that he is in a dire predicament–and frighteningly involved.


  • There are very few capitalization rules and they are very straightforward and simple.
  • The challenge, in this era of texting, is remembering to capitalize.


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