Capitalization Rules in English

Capitalization Rules in English The following are the capitalization rules in English.

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1) Capitalize the first letter of the first word of every sentence. Also capitalize the first letter of the first word when quoting a sentence.

  • She bought us a cake.
  • Please give me the keys.
  • Will you see Ben tomorrow?
  • She asked me, "What are you doing?"
  • "John can help," he said.

2) Capitalize the pronoun I.

  • Don't you think I know it?
  • I'm asking because I truly care.
  • You know I always wanted to be a writer.

3) Capitalize the first letter of names.
(Names of people, places, organizations, months, days of the week, holidays, languages, religions, and so forth.)

  • She always loved Elvis Presley.
  • India is in Asia.
  • Have you been to Italy?
  • Their offices are on Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth.
  • Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975.
  • Jill was born in February.
  • Will we meet on Monday?
  • She just loves Christmas.
  • Do you speak English?
  • They practice Buddhism. 

4) Capitalize the first letter of words that are used as names.
(God, family members, directions used as names of places, and so forth.)
Notice that these words, when not used as names, are not capitalized.

  • Uncle Steve is our uncle.
  • Have you seen Mother? Right now Dad is looking for her, since her mother called.
  • You must drive north to get to the North.
  • In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, may God be with you.

5) Capitalize the first letter of adjectives that are made from names.

  • Do you like Chinese food?
    (The word Chinese is made from the name of the country China.) 
  • More and more Americans are starting to learn the truth. 
    (The word American is made from the name of the place America.)
  • Sarah is Christian from birth.
    (The word Christian is made from the name of the religion Christianity.)

6) Capitalize the title of a person when it used with the person's name.

  • You can see Dr. Levin now.
  • Where are Mr. Franklin and Mrs Montoya?
  • Have a seat, Miss Merlo.

7) Capitalize initials.
  • Initials are the first letters of a person's name.
    For example, JFK are the initials of the former U.S. president John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
  • Initials are also the first letter(s) of a person's first name.
    For example, H. G. Wells are the initials of the famous writer Herbert George Wells.
  • J. K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series. 
  • John F. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917.
    He was known as JFK.  
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882.
    He was known as FDR.

8) Capitalize acronyms and initialisms.

An acronym is a word made up from the first letters of the words that make up the name of something. 

Here are some examples:
  • NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
  • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
An initialism is similar to acronym, but you do not read the letters as a word. Instead, you just say the name of the letters.

Here are some examples:
  • USA (United States of America)
  • VIP (Very Important Person)
  • NBA (National Basketball Association)
  • FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
  • ASAP (As Soon as Possible)
  • B&B (Bed and Breakfast)
  • CD (Compact Disc)
So acronyms and initialisms should be capitalized.

  • Send over the contract ASAP.
  • You can get these songs on a CD.
  • NASA was established in 1958.
  • We're watching the NBA channel.

9) Capitalize the first letter of important words in the name of historical events, documents, books, chapters, magazines, stories, poems, movies, and so forth.


  • Robert fought in World War II.
  • The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776.
  • I've read Oliver Twist several times.
  • He didn't finish Chapter IX, which is the last chapter.
  • He was interviewed by the New York Times.
  • "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" is a known short story by Flannery O’Connor.
  • She has never seen the movie Gone with the Wind.

Capitalization rules for titles

Which words in the title should you capitalize?

We said "the important ones," but which are considered "important"?

Rule number 1: Always capitalize the first and last words.

  • "A good man is hard to Find"
    ("A" is the first word, and "find" is the last word, so we capitalize them.)

Rule number 2:
Capitalize the nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.

  • "A Good Man Is Hard to Find"
    ("Good" is an adjective, "man" is a noun, "is" is a verb, "hard" is an adverb, so we capitalize them.)

Rule number 3:
Don't capitalize prepositions, conjunctions and articles (an, an, the).

  • "A Good Man Is Hard to Find"
    ("To" is a preposition, so you don't capitalize it.)

So here is the final result:

"A Good Man Is Hard to Find"

Another example:

"Gone with the Wind"

Important note

There are several different methods of capitalizing titles. These methods do not always agree.

This page does not cover all the different views, just this one method we explained above.

Now practice with this worksheet:

Click here to download the worksheet: Capitalization Story 1.

Illustrated Worksheet on Capitalization Rules

Full Stops and Capitalization Worksheet and Answer Key

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