Do not use a capital letter for a common noun (i.e., the word for something) unless it starts a sentence. For example:
- New York
- Pacific Ocean
- Uncle George
- Sears Tower
Capital Letters for Proper NounsUse capital letters for the names of people, places, planets, days of the week, titles of rank or relationship (when joined to personís name, e.g., Sergeant Smith, Uncle Fred), months, holidays, departments, clubs, companies, institutions, bridges, buildings, monuments, parks, ships, hotels, streets, historical events, and documents. These are known as proper nouns.)
Do not use a capital letter for a common noun, unless it starts a sentence. A common noun is the word we use for something, e.g., dog, ship, auntie. Common nouns contrast with proper nouns, which are specific names or titles, e.g., Rover, Titanic, Auntie Sally.
Examples Showing When to Use Capital LettersIn the examples below, the proper nouns (i.e., the names or titles) are in bold.
Lake Michigan is a proper noun. It is the name of the lake.)
Big Fish should be big fish
Toilet should be toilet
(instructions on packaging for a toilet seat)
COMMON NOUN AND PROPER NOUN?
A common noun is the word for something (e.g., tower).
A proper noun is the name of something (e.g., The Eiffel Tower).
Read more about proper nouns.
Read more about common nouns.
Read more about the different types of nouns.
STICK TO THE RULES
Do not be tempted to give a word a capital letter just because it is an important word in your sentence.
QUIRKS IN BUSINESS WRITING
In business writing particularly, it is considered good practice (for politeness) to capitalize some common nouns, such as Company and Director – you have a choice.
What are nouns?
The different types of nouns
Capital letters in advertisements
Capital letters and the points of the compass
Capital letters with the four seasons
Capital letters with moons, stars and planets
Capital letters start sentences
What is title case?
Test on using capital letters