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When do I use a capital letter?

Capitalisation can be confusing, especially when sometimes it can feel so random. So today I thought I'd write a small guide to capitalisation. There are only a few rules in capitalisation and once you know, it's hard to forget.

To start with, there are two types of capitalisation:

Maximum capitalisation (title case) - you capitalise every word in the sentence (this style is only really used in titles), with the exception of articles, determiners and coordinating conjunctions.

Minimum capitalisation (sentence case) - you only capitalise the first word and any proper nouns.

Depending on your style sheet, you may use minimum capitalisation or maximum. Maximum capitalisation is easier to follow as you capitalise everything (with some exceptions). For most of your writing, you will be using minimum capitalisation and therefore will only capitalise:

At the beginning of a sentence - A sentence should always start with a capital letter, no matter what the word is or what type of word class it's from, it MUST be a capital letter, no exceptions.

Proper nouns - These must also always be capitalised too. A proper noun is:

  • Name

  • Place

  • Organisation/Brand

  • Title (however this can become confusing, for example 'Queen Elizabeth' is capitalised, whereas 'a queen of England' is not.

  • Historical dates (World War I, World War II etc)

  • Special Dates (Christmas day, Ash Wednesday etc)

There may be times when a noun is a proper noun and others when it's just a regular noun. An easy way to decipher which one it is, proper nouns usually refer to a specific person/place or thing or in some cases group of people, whereas regular nouns refer to something more general. For example, 'a doctor, a teacher, a car, a city etc..

And finally,

I (Pronoun) - When referring to yourself as 'I', you should always capitalise it.

Hopefully this guide will help you to see if in a better light. Understanding the reason behind the capital letter is a good way to make it simpler for yourself as otherwise it can feel like an everchanging game.

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