Confusions are common when writing in the English language as opposed to speaking. Verbal communication rules out all difficulties of grammar, punctuation, using capital letters, etc. All we have to be versed in is the correct formation of sentences and the pronunciation of the words. But when it comes to writing, things are a lot different.
Amongst the various things to take care of when writing, one that requires attention is the use of capital letters. Sometimes, not using a letter in the bigger form could change the meaning of the sentence. And hence, the confusion! Regular classes do not include a thorough understanding of the use of this part of written English. We thought, why not cover a very simple and comprehensible lesson on the same.
When to use Capital Letters?
1. At the beginning of a sentence
Let us begin with one of the most common uses. It is a universally known fact that one cannot begin a sentence without using big letters. A new sentence, the first sentence of every paragraph, or any sentence that begins after a full stop need capitalization.
For example, Sarah is an avid reader. She claims it is her safe haven to escape all the thoughts in her mind. It wouldn’t be wrong to call her a book worm.
Notice how the first sentence and every sentence after the full stop begins with the capital form of the first letter.
2. Every Line of a Poem
You could be a fan of poetry, but surely not everyone notices the grammar in the lines when you have so many sentiments to focus upon. Here’s one distinct feature of poems. Every line in the poem, no matter in the same stanza or not, should begin with a capital letter. Although, you may not find this in every poem since poets have the choice to express creative liberty. If they do not want to follow this, they might not.
Take a look at these lines from John Dryden’s famous poem.
Night came, but without darkness or repose,
A dismal picture of the gen’ral doom:
Where Souls distracted when the Trumpet blows,
And half unready with their bodies come.
Those who have homes, when home they do repair
To a last lodging call their wand’ring friends.
Their short uneasie sleeps are broke with care,
To look how near their own destruction tends.
Those who have none sit round where once it was,
And with full eyes each wonted room require:
Haunting the yet warm ashes of the place,
As murder’d men walk where they did expire.
3. Proper Nouns always begin with capital letters
You know what proper nouns are; in the simplest sense, they are the names of people, places, and animals. Using the name of anything from these categories that do not begin with a capital letter is absolutely incorrect. In written English, all names that fall in the category of proper nouns must have a big letter. For example, Brandon, California, Martha, etc. are all proper nouns, and hence they begin with the big letters.
In fact, even proper adjectives begin with the capitalized form of the letter. Some examples of proper adjectives are Indian, Chinese, French, etc.
4. Days, Months, Festivals
This might also not be new to many of you, that the names of days have to begin with capital letters. Such as, one can never say, “Let’s meet on monday.” The correct form of writing this is- “Let’s meet on Monday.” It does not matter whether the placement of the day is at the beginning of the sentence, in the center, or at the end.
Similarly, months cannot begin with small letters either. We met back in march, is incorrect. It has to be- We met back in March. There is no other way around writing the months.
Lastly, festivals cannot do without capital letters wither. Say you want to say, “Hey! Why don’t you visit us for thanksgiving?” You see the mistake? Thanksgiving is a festival, and so it must always start with the capital form. Same is the case with other festivals too.
5. All dialogues begin with a capital letter
Every dialogue that you start, whether it is the beginning of the sentence or not, begins with a capital letter. Many times, people forget to do that. Let’s understand this better with an example.
The Pope said, “Humans make mistakes, but, we have to find a way to stay away from sin.”
Just because the dialogue begins after a comma, several people start the dialogue with a small letter. The learning here is that no matter where the dialogue lies, it should not begin with a small letter. In this case, the dialogue may or may not begin with a proper noun or a proper adjective. It does not matter in this case. As we said, the dialogue will always begin with capitalization!
Why don’t you practice all of these situations once, and then join us for the second part of this lesson on the use of capital letters?
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