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: GrammarGoddess.com. Poke around. See what you find. See if there’s anything I can help you with!
I often buy frozen “dinners” because it’s easier t ...
Do you remember being a kid and wanting to grow up ...