Capitalizations Rules, Examples and Exceptions

Capitalizations Rules, Examples and Exceptions


The rules of English capitalization appear easy at first view. You’re undoubtedly aware that proper nouns and the first word of each sentence should be capitalized. However, you can (sometimes) uppercase the initial word of a quotation. There are certain exceptions to the rule of not capitalizing after a colon.


Capitalization Rules and Examples

Capitalize the first word of a sentence…

This one is very easy and simple. At the beginning of a sentence, always capitalize the first word.

  • The dog is sleeping.
  • Where did he go?
  • It’s great to see you! Where have you been?!


Capitalize names and other proper nouns…

You must always capitalize people’s names.

  • My favorite author is Sarah Jio.
  • Austin and Ally met at my cousin Tobie’s house.
  • Have you met my parrot, Lemon?


Proper nouns are names. Cities, nations, corporations, religions, and political parties are all proper nouns, which means they should be capitalized as well.

  • When we went to a Catholic wedding in San Diego last October, we were treated to some lovely Southern California weather.


Be careful that you should also capitalize words like mom and grandpa when they are used as a form of address.

  • Just wait till Mom sees what you’ve done!


  • Oh no! My mom is not going to like this.


Don’t capitalize after a colon (not always)

After a colon, you usually don’t need to capitalize.

  • I have one true passion: American flag football.


There are a few notable exceptions. When the word after the colon is a proper noun, for example.

  • There is only one place I want to visit: Seoul.


The other exception is when the words after the colon compose a whole sentence or more.

  • Mia always wears a brimmed cap for these two reasons: Strong light often gives her a headache. She also likes the way it looks.


Capitalize the first word of a quote (sometimes)

You must capitalize the first word of a quote when the quote is a complete sentence.

  • My mum asked, “What is everyone doing this winter holiday?”


Pay attention that doesn’t capitalize the first word of partial quotes.

  • Amy said she was “way too busy” to join the gym.


 Capitalize days, months, and holidays, but not seasons

You should uppercase the names of days, months, and holidays since they are proper nouns.

  • I love Fridays!
  • Rawan’s birthday is in August.
  • Oh no! I forgot about Valentine’s Day!

Season names, on the other hand, are not proper nouns, thus they don’t need to be capitalized.

  • I hate winter!
  • Having a summer birthday is the best.


Capitalize most words in titles

The capitalization standards for book, film and other work titles differ slightly amongst style guides. The initial word, all nouns, all verbs (including short ones like is), all adjectives, and all proper nouns should all be capitalized. Articles, conjunctions, and prepositions should all be lowercased; nevertheless, some style guides recommend capitalizing conjunctions and prepositions with more than five characters.

  • The first movie of the series is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.


 Capitalize cities, countries, nationalities, and languages

The names of cities, countries, nationalities, and languages are proper nouns, so you should capitalize them.

  • My mother is German, and my father is Bosnian.


Capitalize time periods and events

Specific periods, eras, and historical events that have proper names must be capitalized.

  • Most of the World War I veterans are now deceased.
  • Students in middle school generally appreciate learning about the societal changes that occurred during the Roaring Twenties.