Capitalisation Rules

The capitalisation rules in English can be quite confusing. Most students understand that they should begin a sentence with a capital letter. They also understand that proper nouns (e.g. Mark, Mary) should be capitalized.

However, the most common mistakes occur with national adjectives and the names of languages.

If you find the rules of capitalization confusing, this article will be helpful to you.

  • Capitalize ‘I’
  • Capitalize the names of countries. Examples: Japan, America, Russia
  • Capitalize national nouns and adjectives. Examples: Chinese, Russian, French, British
  • Capitalize the first letter of the first word in a sentence or question.
  • Capitalize proper nouns (i.e. the names of people). Examples: John, Mary, Annie
  • Do not capitalize common nouns. Examples: boy, tree, flower, butterfly
  • Capitalize the names of institutions, organizations etc.
  • Capitalize the names of festivals. Examples: Id, Diwali, Easter, Christmas

Capital letters are used with particular types of nouns, in certain positions in sentences, and with some adjectives. You must always use capital letters for:

The beginning of a sentence

  • Dogs are noisy.
  • Children are noisy too.

The first person personal pronoun, I

  • Yesterday, I went to the park.
  • He isn't like I am.

Names and titles of people

  • Winston Churchill
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • the Queen of England
  • the President of the United States
  • the Headmaster of Eton
  • Doctor Mathews
  • Professor Samuels

Titles of works, books, movies

  • War and Peace
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Spider Man II

Months of the year

  • January
  • July
  • February
  • August

Days of the week

  • Monday
  • Friday
  • Tuesday
  • Saturday


  • Christmas
  • Easter
  • New Year's Day
  • Thanksgiving Day

Names of countries and continents

  • America
  • England
  • Scotland
  • China

Names of regions, states, districts

  • Sussex
  • California
  • Provence
  • Tuscany

Names of cities, towns, villages

  • London
  • Cape Town
  • Florence
  • Vancouver

Names of rivers, oceans, seas, lakes

  • the Atlantic
  • the Pacific
  • Lake Victoria
  • the Rhine
  • the Thames

Names of geographical formations

  • the Himalayas
  • the Alps
  • the Sahara

Adjectives relating to nationality

  • French music
  • Australian animals
  • German literature
  • Arabic writing

Collective nouns for nationalities

  • the French
  • the Germans
  • the Americans
  • the Chinese

Language names

  • I speak Chinese.
  • He understands English.

Names of streets, buildings, parks

  • Park Lane
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Central Park
  • the Empire State Building
  • Wall Street
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