3 Easy Capitalization Rules

3 Easy Capitalization Rules by Nailah Harvey.png

We all know the basic capitalization rules like capitalize the first word of a sentence. But there are a few more common rules for capitalization that I'd like to bring to your attention.

1. Capitalize Proper Nouns

A proper noun is the name of noun (a person, place, thing, or idea). More specifically, a "proper noun has two distinctive features: 1) it will name a specific [usually a one-of-a-kind] item, and 2) it will begin with a capital letter no matter where it occurs in a sentence. For example:

President Obama is writing a book.
I would love to interview President Obama.
I wonder if President Obama is fully rested after serving two terms in the White House.

In the above examples, the proper noun is President Obama because we have the specific name of the president; therefore, the proper noun is capitalized. Also, the capitalized proper noun is used in different locations of the sentence in each example. (NOTE: White House is an additional proper noun in the third sentence, therefore, it is capitalized.)

If I were to write the sentence, "The president is writing a book," the word "president" wouldn't need to be capitalized because it is a common noun, or regular noun. In this particular example sentence, readers don't know specifically who the president is, so this title is considered generic.  

2. Capitalize the Titles for Books, Songs, Blogs, and Articles

Titles need to be capitalized unless they include prepositions, conjunctions, or words with less than three letters. (The words-with-less-than-three letters rule is tricky and more so depends on the writer's style. Also, some grammarists say you shouldn't capitalize words with less than four letters, but the jury is out on that one. I'm gonna to have to do more research, so I guess you'll have to wait till my new grammar book comes out for the results. :-)) 

I digress.

 A quick grammar refresher: a preposition is a noun that shows the relationship to another word or noun (e.g. for, of, after), and a conjunction connects words, phrases, and sentences (e.g. and, but, or). So the next time you're writing your favorite Andy Mineo song, make sure you capitalize it correctly. For example:

"The Saints" is a classic track by inspirational rapper, Andy Mineo.
Andy Mineo's most-popular song is arguably "You Can't Stop Me."

Notice in the above examples that the words in each song title are capitalized. Also, notice in the second example that the word "Me" is capitalized although it has less than three letters. Why? Because it is a typical stylistic choice for music artists to capitalize two-letter words that are NOT prepositions or conjunctions. 

3. Always Capitalize Trademarks

Let's say you're writing a paper about athletic wear, and you compare two brands: Nike and Adidas. Well, these two brands are also trademarks, so they need to be capitalized. For example:

Men prefer Nike sweatpants, but women prefer Adidas sweatpants.

I think the above example clearly exemplifies my point. No need to elaborate. NOTE: No matter where the trademark is placed in a sentence, it is to be capitalized. 

I hope these easy rules for capitalization help you with your future emails, essays, and overall writing.

Nailah