Susan 🐝 Rooks, The Grammar Goddess

4 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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American Grammar Checkup: More Devilish Details -- Capitalization

So far I’ve written three posts ( #1, #2, #3) on devilish details that can derail even the best article, because many writers are not putting their best selves forward. They’re turning readers away due to small errors that when added up may make the writers look unprofessional.

Today I am going to focus on using capital letters correctly, because there seems to be a lot of confusion concerning them.

We use capital letters for the letter I when it stands alone, for the first word of a sentence, and to name a person or a specific place or thing.

The letter I: In American English – and I believe in ALL English versions – the letter I standing alone is always capitalized. It just is. We cannot write “i did”; it must be “I did.”

I see this frequently in social media profiles, which are the first things we see about anyone, and we’d all be smart to check ours to see if we missed it while typing. Most publishing platforms do not have a built-in spellchecker, so if we do type i, it will stay that way. I’m creating this post in Word, and every time I type i, it automatically gets changed to the capital letter (I have to force it to stay as the lowercase form). We can become so used to our spellcheck program making the change we don’t even realize it did not happen on a publishing platform.

First letters of our name: We should capitalize the first letters in our name. The basic rule for capitalizing is to capitalize words that are “proper nouns,” words that name people and specific places and things. To not use capital letters in those circumstances will look odd and wrong to many readers, and it will take away from your professional presentation. And our name is our singular identity; let’s be sure we’re using it to signal our pride in it!

YES: Susan Rooks

NO: susan rooks

NOTE: I realize that around the world some names have words in them that do not get capitalized; I have seen that. But almost always the FIRST word of the name will be. I am simply saying that if you do not have a good reason to leave off the capital letters, please consider using them.

Specific people, places, or things: Too many writers think titles like doctor, president, or executive are always capitalized, but unless they’re referring to a specific person, we generally do NOT capitalize the word. The same idea holds true for places and things; there are general terms that are not capitalized; there are specific ones that are.

Dr. Albert Schweitzer; Albert Schweitzer was a doctor.

the High Bridge (aka Python Bridge), Amsterdam, Netherlands; a bridge in Amsterdam

the Queen of England; a queen in England

the Kashmir Valley in India; a valley in India

Are there other details you see that I could include in a future post? While none of these are huge deals, if there are too many of them in your profile or posts, your readers might wonder what’s going on. At the least, these details can be distracting and take away from the thoughts you worked so hard to express. 

If this post helps you in any way, please share it with your hives so they may learn as well. And please do comment; it helps you to stand out and you never know who might be interested in YOU. (Just ask Deb Helfrich how well that has worked for her.)

For more posts on topics ranging from American grammar to Friday Fundays, please visit my website: Poke around. See what you find. See if there’s anything I can help you with!

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I have noticed the frequent use of "i" in poems and it appears to be intentional since the use of it was repetitive. My thoughts are the use of "i" is to grab the readers attention or English is not their mother tongue. Whatever the reason, I feel I have to correct it.

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #6

A capital post, by a capital host, There's just nothing that I can state better, But please tell me why, we're a match 'you' and 'I', Yet 'I' have an upper case letter? 🤔

Proma 🐝 Nautiyal

4 years ago #5

What a wonderful buzz, Susan \ud83d\udc1d Rooks, the Grammar Goddess! Not finding the right letters capitalized is a pet peeve of mine. Especially, when it comes to I. I remember one of my students consistently using small 'I' while writing his essays. No amount of corrections helped. One day I asked him, "don't you think you are important enough?" He nodded and said, "I am important, yes." Then I told him, "Why then do you not capitalize the I's in your essays? Capitalization stands for something big and important, right?" I think that did the trick. It might not make much sense to us adults but the kid understood and I could see he would make a conscious effort at keeping all his I's capital and a bonus, he started writing his name starting with a capital letter, too. :-)

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #4

My phone will give the option of "I" instead of i when typing on it. I can't remember if it auto corrects "I" though. Again great tips Susan \ud83d\udc1d Rooks, the Grammar Goddess, thanks!

John Rylance

4 years ago #3

i agree with the above. The only person who might disagree is the poet e e cummings. Then he would claim poetic license. Another excuse for grammatical mistakes. I was writing poetically.
Yes, I think in this day and age, we need to tighten up our writing, Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier, if only to stand out. I know that not everyone grew up learning English (whichever variation) as a native tongue; I'm amazed at how well others do with it under those circumstances and I respect them immensely. But even though are times when we don't have to be "proper," with business we do best when we err on the side of caution, of professionalism. And thanks so much for sharing my buzz! I really appreciate that.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #1

Thank you, Susan. You hit all my pet peeves! Text messaging has made grammar seem unimportant, but to me, grammar and punctuation are always important. This is especially true in the case of web content because it lasts forever! Why would anyone want to be thought illiterate? It's hard to take a native speaker of English seriously if they don't appear to know how to write basic sentences correctly.

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