This page is aimed to deal with the definition of capitalization and the main uses of capital letters.

1.Definition of Capitalization

The most common usage of capitalization is to capital certain letters in a sentence. It also often used for proper nouns. According to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (OALD), capitalization is to write a letter of the alphabet using a capital letter, that is to say, to begin a word with a capital letter.

The letters can be written in two ways, the majuscule version, which is the capital letters or upper case, and minuscule versions (or lower case).

Upper Case:

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z

Lower Case:

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

i

j

k

l

m

n

o

p

q

r

s

t

u

v

w

x

y

z

2. Main Uses of Capital Letters

To capitalize a letter, you have several rules to follow:

(1) Capitalize the first word in a sentence or direct quotation.

Our birth is nothing but our death begun. (Night Thoughts)

Benjamin Franklin said, “At twenty years of age, the will reigns, at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgement.”

If you need help,” said Ted, “call me. I’ll be over in no time.”

Note: In the third example above, If and I are capitalized because they start new sentences. But call is not capitalized, because it is part of the first sentence.

(2) Capitalize the word I and names of people, titles of persons

I mean that I know the real origin of your wealth and your career, and I have got your letter, too.

Jenny and Catherine went to the beach together.

Mr. Johnson is the Chief Executive Officer of this company.

President Obama

Note: The personal pronoun “I” is always written with a capital letter, wherever in a sentence it comes.

(3) Capitalize the names of particular places and institution.

The Great Wall

The White House

(4) Capitalize names of days of the week, months and holidays.

On the last Sunday afternoon in December, the day before the Christmas Day, my boss was having a barbecue for all the employees.

There’s a feeling of spring in the air today.

Note: Use small letters for the seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter.

(5) Capitalize names of commercial products

Keith installed a new Sony stereo and a Motorola cell phone into his old Ford Ranger pickup.

(6) Capitalize titles of books, magazines, newspapers, articles, stories, poems, films, television shows, songs, papers etc.

In the doctor’s waiting room, I can watch The Big Bang Theory, leaf through news in The Times, or read articles in Reader’s Digest.

(7) Capitalize languages, races, nations, and nationalities

His Indian accent makes his English very difficult to understand.

China, Chinese, America, American, UK, English

(8) Capitalize the names of religions and religious terms

God, Christ , Christians, Christianity, Judaism, Jews, Islam, Muslims, Allah

(9) Capitalize in the opening and closing of a letter

Dear Sir or Madam,

Dear Ms. Benet,

Sincerely yours,


Of course, there are some other uses of capital letters that are not mentioned above.


Citation:

[1]. John Langan, Writing Skills With Readings, 6th Edition, Beijing: Foreign Language and Research Press,2007.1

[2]http://www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish-central-grammar-capital-letters.htm

[3]http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/capital.asp