English capitalization rules may seem simple at a first glance. It is common knowledge that the first word of every sentence and proper nouns should be capitalized. However, there are instances in which an individual can be unsure about capitalization. For example, the first word of a quote or after a colon and their exceptions. When is capitalization (not) necessary?
Rules of English Capitalization
- Capitalize the First Word of a Sentence
This is easy. Always capitalize the first word of a sentence.
- I am running
- Hello! How have you been?
- Capitalize Names and Other Proper Nouns
People’s names should always be capitalized.
- Chris and Mary met at Danny’s house.
- Have you met my pet, Rex?
Names of countries, cities, religions, royal titles, nationalities, languages, companies and political parties are proper nouns and should be capitalized too.
- I experienced the beautiful Tuscany weather last spring when I attended a beautiful Italian wedding in Florence.
- My father is French whereas my mother is German.
- Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are moving out of the Buckingham Palace.
Words such as dad and grandma should be capitalized when they are used as a form of address.
- Do not capitalize After a Colon.
There is no need to capitalize after a colon in most cases.
- My brother has one true passion: playing soccer.
Common exceptions include:
- a) When the colon is followed by a proper noun.
- There is one city that I wish to visit: Florence.
- b) When the colon is followed by words that form one or more complete sentences.
- Matt donned his gloves and hat for two reasons: Cold hair triggers allergic reactions. He also likes the way it looks.
- The First Word of a Quote is (at times) Capitalized
This is especially the case when the quote is a complete sentence.
- Mary asked, “Which date is convenient for our high school homecoming?”
- Danny responded, “The best date is the weekend before spring break.”
The first word of partial quotes should not be capitalized.
- Dan said he was “somehow busy” to enroll in a singing class.
- Holidays, Months, and Days should be capitalized but not seasons
The names of days, months, and holidays should be capitalized because they are proper nouns.
- I love Fridays!
- I miss going out on Valentine’s Day
Seasons, on the other hand, are not proper nouns and should not be capitalized.
- Most Words in Titles should be Capitalized
The capitalization rules for titles of books, movies, and other works vary a little between style guides.
- Sense 8 is better than Jack Ryan.
- Events (at times) and time period should be capitalized
You should capitalize the names of particular historical events, eras and periods that have proper names
- The majority of the First World War veterans have since passed on.
- The bubonic plague of the Middle Ages was mainly spread by poor hygiene.
But, centuries and the numbers before them are not capitalized.
- The Franco-Prussian War culminated in the late nineteenth century