English Grammar Rules for Capitalization

Written by megan richardson
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English Grammar Rules for Capitalization
Clear writing must include capitalisation knowledge. (escribir_2 image by drakis from Fotolia.com)

Grammar is the study of words and their relationships to other words within a language. English grammar contains many rules on what is considered correct grammar. One element of English grammar is capitalisation, which dictates which words are capitalised and which are not. There are many grammar rules concerning capitalisation.


The first word within quotation marks should be capitalised. For example: Mary screamed at Tom, "Watch out!"

Proper Nouns

The names of people, places and things should be capitalised. For example, Mary is a specific person, so her name is capitalised. Golden Gate Bridge is a proper place, so it is capitalised. Mac laptops are a specific brand of laptops, so Mac is capitalised.


When a title precedes a person's name, it should be capitalised. This includes titles like Miss, Mr., and President. A person's title should also be capitalised when it directly follows a person's name on an address line or on a signature line.

Compass Points

The directions found on a compass should only be capitalised when they refer to specific areas. For example, "He's from the South." There is no need to capitalise it in this example: "Head south on First Street to get to his house."


All titles of publications need to be capitalised. The only parts of the title that don't need to be capitalised are the little words within a title, like a, an, the, but, as, if, and, or, nor. If a little word is the first word in the title of a publication, then it does need to be capitalised. For example, the English newspaper,"The Times."


The words "federal" and "state" need to be capitalised when they are part of a government agency's name. For example, "federal" does not need to be capitalised in the following sentence: "He was arrested for a federal offence." The same word does need to be capitalised in this instance: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating him."

Salutations and Closings

You should capitalise the first word in a salutation. Salutations are greeting lines at the beginning of letters and e-mails. They usually begin with the word "dear" or "hello." The first word in a closing line of a letter should also be capitalised. The closing line usually begins with "love" or "sincerely."


The specific name of a course or class should be capitalised. For example, "I am going to History of the Roman Civilization at 11 a.m"

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