March 4, 2010

15 Tips on How to Capitalize Nouns (Nouns, Part 1 of 3)

When do you capitalize nouns?

1. Names of specific people

  • CAPS: Alma, Nerissa, Beatrice Gabrielle, Paulo, the Santos family, the Reyeses
  • NO CAPS: family, boy, girl, sister, cousin

What about mom and dad? Capitalize them when you're calling your parent's name, but not when you refer to "my mom" or "my dad."

  • CAPS: Hi, Dad! Welcome home, Mom.
  • NO CAPS: My father and my mother are busy. Could your mom or your dad drive us to the theatre?

2. Days of the week, months, and holidays, but not seasons

  • CAPS: Sunday, October, New Year's Day, Easter
  • NO CAPS: autumn, fall, spring, winter, summer

3. Ranks, and titles, but only when used with a particular persons' name

  • CAPS: This is Doctor Yu, this is Aunt Cyng, and that man is General Lacson.
  • NO CAPS: That man is my doctor, that woman is my aunt, and that man is a general in the army.

4. Geographic areas: cities, states, countries, counties, rivers, oceans, streets, parks, etc.

  • CAPS: California, Pasig River, Pacific Ocean, Guevarra Street, Luneta Park, Laguna Lake, Rocky Mountains
  • NO CAPS: The ocean is deep. The mountains are high.

5. Regions of the United States, but not simple directions

  • CAPS: I was born in the Northwest, but I grew up in the South.
  • NO CAPS: I live on the east side of town.

6. Historical periods

  • CAPS: the Renaissance, World War II, the Middle Ages, the Battle of Pugad Lawin
  • NO CAPS: It was a long war. We live in an age of computers.

7. Religions, nationalities, races of people, languages, countries and adjectives related to those countries

  • CAPS: Christians, Jews, Asians, Africans, Japanese, Arabic, Denmark, Philippines, Chinese spring rolls, German measles

8. The various names for God and the names of sacred books

  • CAPS: God, Jehovah, Allah, the Bible, the Koran
  • NO CAPS: There were many gods and goddesses in ancient myths.

9. Specific school courses, but not general subjects

  • CAPS: I'm taking Nursing 101 and History of the Philippines.
  • NO CAPS: I'm taking science and english.

10. Names of specific schools, businesses, buildings, organizations, etc.

  • CAPS: Acer Computer, St. Mary's College, the University of the Philippines
  • NO CAPS: I want a new computer. That is a pre-school building. I plan to enroll in a university.

11. Brand names

  • CAPS: Honda, Nintendo, Colgate, Calvin Klein

12. Names of planets, except sun and moon and sometimes not earth

  • CAPS: Mercury, Uranus, Neptune, Earth (capitalize when you're referring to it as one of the planets)
  • NO CAPS: The moon is full tonight. More than six billion people live on the earth.

13. Letters that stand alone

  • CAPS: U-turn, T-bone, X-ray, an A+ in science class

14. Names of specific teams and clubs and their members

  • CAPS: the Harlem Globe Trotters, the Liberal Party
  • NO CAPS: I play on a basketball team.

15. Titles of movies, books, chapters, and articles

  • CAPS: Superman Returns, Fundamentals of Nursing
  • NO CAPS: Articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, etc.) and short prepositions (in, of, with, etc.) are not always capitalized unless [1] they start a sentence : The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, or [2] they are part of the verb : "Siren Wakes Up Neighborhood"

Attribution to Rebecca Elliot for her book Painless Grammar (c) 2006, 1997

Other noun tips:
16 Tips on How to Capitalize Nouns (Nouns, Part 1 of 3)
9 Tips about Possessive Nouns (Nouns, Part 2 of 3)
14 Tips on Making Plural Nouns (Nouns, Part 3 of 3)