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Basic Grammar and Punctuation: Capitals

The tutorials below address basic grammar and punctuation errors writers routinely have. Use these guidelines to proofread and correct errors in your papers before submission. For hands-on help, see a tutor in your campus Learning Support Commons.

About Capitals

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

For example:

WrongEven though I like Reading, I would rather study Programming. (There are the general names of subjects, not the names of specific classes.)

RightEven 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 beach.

She said, "Let's go to the beach."

2) The word 'I' and people's names:

For example:

I feel the need for speed when driving.

Larry likes lemons.

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

For example:

The Sorbonne is a university in France.

French is the language the French Foreign Legion uses regardless of where its soldiers come from.

4) Product names:

For example:

Xerox makes copiers, but not all copies are xeroxes. 

A smartphone can be an iPhone or a Blackberry or an Android.

5) Calendar items:

For example:

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:

For example:

My doctor is named Dr. Payne.

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