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Capitalization Rules

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by

Robert Culp

on 24 September 2011

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Transcript of Capitalization Rules

Capitalization Rules
…the first word in sentences.
This seems like such a basic rule that you may wonder why I include it, but it is the source of many writing errors. Since e-mail became popular, it seems that many people think it is acceptable (or even cute) to not capitalize properly. Even in informal messages, it is important to communicate clearly. That means capitalizing properly.
This is a sentence.
So is this.
Notice how I capitalize the first letter in each sentence.
You’ve known this rule since first grade.
Don’t break it.
We always capitalize. . .
…proper nouns.
Nouns name people, places, and things. Every noun can further be classified as common or proper. A proper noun has two distinctive features: 1) it will name a specific [usually a one-of-a-kind] item, and 2) it will begin with a capital letter no matter where it occurs in a sentence. Many of these are covered separately in this document.
Common Nouns
-I had a cookie for a snack.
-The teacher smelled weird.
-I ate at a restaurant last night
Proper Nouns
-I had an Oreo for a snack.
-Mr. Culp smells weird.
-I ate at Fiesta Palace last night.
…the names of people and nicknames.
When should the word mom be capitalized? This is a question many students cannot answer correctly, and many spell-check programs don't seem to know either because they force you to capitalize mom, dad, aunt, uncle, and other words that indicate one's place in the family. Such words are capitalized only when they refer to a specific person and are used in place of that person's name.
The girl went by the name Catie even though her mother called her Catherine.

His mom went to the store. (not a proper noun)

I asked Mom to help me. (proper noun)

My uncle is a funny guy. (not part of a name)

I wrote Uncle Steve a letter. (part of a name)
Time to practice!
…the pronoun I.
This is another rule that seemed simple until e-mail and texting came along. Also, I’ve noticed that some students like to decorate a lower-case I by turning the dot into a smiley face or heart. How adorable! But don’t do it when writing for a teacher! Your writing should be formal.
My friends and I are ready to leave now.

If I were you, I would capitalize correctly even in informal e-mail messages.
…days, months, and holidays.
We all know this rule, but it is one that student's occasionally miss in their writing.
I can’t believe that Wednesday, December 25, is Christmas Day.

We went to Bob’s house on Easter in April.

Let’s have lunch next Friday.
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