Capital vs Capitol

What Is the Difference?


Capital and capitol are two commonly confused words in the English language.

They are confusing because they are homophones and are spelled almost exactly the same.

When do you use each one?

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These two words have completely different meanings. It is important that you know their meanings so you can use them correctly in your writing.


Capital

This is the more common of the two words. It is used more often than the other spelling.

Capital is usually used as a noun. As a noun, capital has three well-known meanings.
  1. Capital letter

  2. A city that serves as a center of government

  3. Wealth in the form of money or property
Let's look at some examples for each of these definitions.


1. Capital letter (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)

Examples:
  • Please capitalize your first and last name. (Use a capital letter to start each name.)

  • In American schools, the capital letter "A" means your work was at least 90% correct.

  • You must use a capital letter at the beginning of every sentence.

  • Should we use lower-case letters or capital letters to write the title of the book?

  • Use capital letters for proper nouns.
capital letters


2. A city that serves as a center of government


Every state has its own capital city. The United States also has a national capital city.

For example:
  • Topeka is the capital of Kansas.

  • Tallahassee is the capital of Florida.state capital

  • Austin is the capital of Texas.

  • Phoenix is the capital of Arizona.

  • Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico.

  • Sacramento is the capital of California.

  • Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States.

  • Tokyo is the capital of Japan.

3. Wealth in the form of money or property

Examples:

  • The business made large capital gains this year.

  • The business did not have enough capital to buy the new building.

  • The company increased their capital by selling fifty percent of their stock.

  • We used our capital to hire five new employees this year.
money


Capitol

Capitol is also a noun.

Capitol refers to the actual capitol buildings in Washington, D.C. and in each state.

If you are writing about the United States Capitol building, then you capitalize "Capitol."

If you are writing about state capitol buildings, you do not capitalize "capitol."

If you are not writing about the actual capitol buildings, then you probably want to write "capital."
  • The United States Capitol building is located in the capital city of Washington, D.C.

  • State capitol buildings are located in state capital cities.

United States Capitol

These were the differences of capital and capitol. Now that you understand, it is time to practice! Get our ESL Books.

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