Capital Letters | Using Capital Letters with Proper and Common Nouns

Capital Letters: When should capital letters be used in a question which often leads to scratching our heads? Though we have been taught about this in our junior classes a bit, we still get confused at times regarding which rules should be applied at which point in the situation.

What is a Capital Letter?

A capital letter is one of the letters from the alphabet written at the start of the word. It is written in upper case format, and the rest of the word’s letters are written in lower case. A capital signifies the start of a new sentence, and it denotes names and titles, important words used in a sentence, etc.

For example, Apple, England, Ertiga, Ganga, etc.

In all the words written above, the first letter is a capital letter, whereas the rest of the letters are in lower case. Therefore, it’s quite necessary to know the rules of usage of capital letters.

What Are Nouns And The Use Of Capital Letters?

A noun is the name of a place, animal or thing. Nouns are words that mostly come with capital letters, but this is not the case with all the nouns. This leads to a bit of confusion. Therefore, there is a specific noun named proper noun.

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What Is A Proper Noun?

A proper noun is a noun used to signify a single entity rather than a list of things. It is the title given to something or a personal name used for something. The basic rule is that the first letter of a proper noun should always be capitalized, whether it appears in a sentence or how it is used. Almost all proper nouns come under the category of names, place, books, companies, months, holidays, departments, clubs, institutions, bridges, streets, monuments, hotels, etc.

Some of the examples of proper nouns are:

  • Names- Dev, Vanshika, Vrinda, Antony, Rahul, Kiran
  • Places: America, Florida, Delhi, Rohini, London, Asia
  • Books: The Geeta, Bible, Mahabharata, Invisible Man, Hind Swaraj, The Ramayana
  • Months and Days: January, Tuesday, Monday, December, November, April
  • Movies: Harry Potter, Captain America, Ra-one, Bodyguard, Dangal, Gossip Girl.
  • Companies: Suzuki, BMW, Amazon, Flipkart, Kissan, Google
  • Titles: President, Prime Minister, MLA, Queen
  • Street names: Fifth Avenue, Maharaja Agrasen Marg
  • Names of school, colleges: Harvard University, University of Edinburg, Rosary School
  • Mountains: Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, Denali, Mount Kilimanjaro

As mentioned above, we easily get to know that there are ample proper nouns available, which demonstrates how capitalization should take place when required.

There are a few words or proper nouns that do not require capitalization. Hence you should keep in mind that if a word is referring to something specific, it would mostly require a capital letter, and it states something more general, then a capital letter is not required.

Whereas there are a few exceptions to the rule.

For example, A book named The Catcher in the Rye has words like ‘in’ and ‘the’, which are kept in lower case, though these are proper nouns. The question arises that why are these words not capitalized? This is because the words ‘in’ and ‘the’ are not that important in the title that they need to be capitalized.

What Is A Common Noun?

A common noun is a word for something. One should not use a capital letter for a common noun. A common noun should only be capitalized when it is used at the beginning of a sentence.

For example, cat, city, aunt, sea, etc.

Here are some of the examples showing when to use Capital Letters:

Each of these examples has a proper and a common noun used.

  1. The kingdom he visited last year was The United Kingdom. (In this sentence, the word kingdom is a common noun as kingdom word refers to a domain or a land. At the same time, the United Kingdom is a proper noun. It is the name of a place.)
  2. The Temple Akshardham is not a temple but a public place. (Here, the Temple Akshardham is a proper noun, whereas the word temple is a common noun.)
  3. It was an exciting day, and I wish to visit again on the Day of New Year next. (Here, the word day is a common noun, whereas the Day of New Year is a proper noun.)

Common Capitalization Mistakes

One should be aware of some common capitalization errors so that you can avoid them in your writing. There are a few situations to be considered related to proper noun capitalization, these are:

  • General courses or subjects: When we write Physics 2.0, we capitalize the word physics, whereas when we write I study physics, the word is not capitalized.
  • General Titles: When a title is a part of somebody’s name, it is capitalized, whereas it is used while the general discussion is not capitalized. For example,” The Prime Minister of India will meet President Obama next month.”
  • Seasons: We usually capitalize the names of days, months and holidays, whereas the name of season is not capitalized. For example, spring, winter, summer, etc.
  • Lunar and celestial terms: The words moon and sun are usually not capitalized in a sentence, only if they are a part of a list of other astronomical terms.

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