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Basic Grammar and Punctuation

An AARC writing resource

How To Use Capitals

Students sometimes get into trouble when they use capitals to add emphasis to their writing. For example:

Wrong – Even though I like Reading, I would rather study Programming(These are the general names of subjects, not the names of specific classes.)

Right – Even though I like reading, I would rather study math.

There are 6 uses of capitals: 

1) The 1st word in a sentence or a direct quotation. For example:

She wanted to go to the lake.

She said, "Let's go to the lake."

2) The word 'I' and people's names. For example:

I feel the need for speed when driving.

A lumberjack might eat chicken, but Lumberjacks like Canes!

3) The names of specific places, institutions, and languages. For example:

Stephen F. Austin is a university in East Texas.

Spanish is another language commonly spoken throughout the southern United States.

4) Product names such as:

Xerox makes copiers, but not all copies are xeroxes. 

A smartphone can be an iPhone or a Blackberry or an Android. (Note how brand names are spelled like the manufacturer does.)

5) Calendar items such as:

I sent my friend a Hanukkah card while she sent me a Christmas card. 

Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday of November.

6) Titles such as:

My doctor is named Dr. Payne.

She always keeps the latest issue of MAD and National Lampoon in her waiting room.