When to Capitalize

Learn the rules of capitalization from Gotham Writers' Workshop instructor Stephanie Paterik in this Howcast grammar video.


Are you curious about when you should capitalize a word? Well, there are two instances in which you should do it. One is at the beginning of a sentence, no matter what, you want to capitalize the first word. And the other is anytime you have a proper noun. That might be a person's name, it might be the name of a place, a person, a product.

Any proper noun you want to capitalize, no matter where it lands in the sentence. So I'll give you an example of both of those. You have a sentence that reads, 'You are beautiful,and so is Lisa.' Well, there are two words here that are capitalized, 'You,'because it's the first word in the sentence, and 'Lisa,' because Lisa is a proper noun. Even though she's the last word in the sentence, we still capitalize her. I'm going to give you two examples of sentences in which you might be tempted to break the rule. One is a sentence that begins with a number, 20.

Now normally, if we had number greater than nine, we would use the numerals, rather than spell it out. But when the number 20 is the first word in a sentence, we want to break that rule and capitalize it. So remember, no matter what, the first word of a sentence is capitalized. Another instance where you might come across this, is if you have a product name, like, iPhone. And this particular product has a lowercase i. Well, if you start a sentence with the word iPhone, technically, you really need to capitalize it. So you'd be changing the product name, essentially, to be grammatically correct. And in this case, it would say, 'Iphones are the best.' So one way around this is if you come across a word that you don't want to capitalize, don't make it the first word of a sentence. Rearrange your sentence so it can come later. So those are the two times when you want to capitalize a word, at the beginning of a sentence and when you have a proper noun.

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