English Usage Topics > Capital Letters
Obligatory capital letter
You must use a capital letter for the first word of a sentence or a piece of direct speech.
You must also start the following words and word groups with a capital letter:
Names of people, organizations, books, films, and plays (except for short, common words like of, the, and and)
...Miss Helen Perkins, head of management development at Price Waterhouse.
Troilus and Cressida and Coriolanus are the greatest political plays that Shakespeare wrote.
You spell even short, common words with a capital letter when they come at the beginning of the title of a book, film, or play.
...his new book, 'A Future for Socialism'.
Names of places
Dempster was born in India in 1941.
The strongest wind was recorded at Berry Head, Brixham, Devon.
Names of days, months, and festivals
The trial continues on Monday.
It was mid-December and she was going home for Christmas.
Nouns referring to people of a particular nationality
The Germans and the French move more of their freight by rail or water than the British.
I had to interview two authors – one an American, one an Indian.
Names of people used to refer to art, music, and literature created by them
In those days you could buy a Picasso for £300.
I listened to Mozart.
Nouns referring to products produced by a particular company
I bought a second-hand Volkswagen.
...a cleansing powder which contains bleach (such as Vim).
Titles used in front of someone's name
There has been no statement so far from President Bush.
The tower was built by King Henry II in the 12th century.
Adjectives showing nationality or place
...a French poet.
...the Californian earthquake.
Adjectives showing that something is associated with or resembles a particular person
...his favourite Shakespearean sonnet.
...in Victorian times.
The personal pronoun I is always written as a capital letter.
I thought I was alone.
The words me, my, mine, and myself are not written with a capital letter, unless they come at the beginning of a sentence.
Optional capital letter
You can use either a lowercase letter or a capital letter at the beginning of:
Words referring to directions such as North and South
We shall be safe in the north.
The home-ownership rate in the South East of England is higher than in the North.
Words referring to decades
It was very popular in the seventies.
Most of it was done in the Seventies.
Names of seasons
I planted it last autumn.
In the Autumn of 1948 Caroline returned to the United States.
Note that in American English, a lowercase letter is used unless the word is part of a title.
Construction is expected to begin next spring.
...Rachel Carson's book `Silent Spring'.
Titles of people (especially when used to refer to a type of person)
...the great prime ministers of the past.
...one of the greatest Prime Ministers who ever held office.
...portraits of the president.
...the brother of the President.
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