Capital Letters with the Seasons
(spring, summer, autumn (fall), and winter)

The Quick Answer

The seasons are not written with capital letters unless they form part of a name. For example:
  • I am leaving in the winter. correct tick
  • I live near Winter Mountain River. correct tick
  • (In this example, "Winter" is part of the name "Winter Mountain River.")
seasons and capital letters

Capital Letters and the Seasons

The four seasons (spring, summer, autumn (small British flag) / fall (small American flag), and winter) are not written with capital letters.

The names of the seasons are common nouns (the words we use for things, e.g., boy, dog, bridge) not proper nouns (the names we give to things, e.g., Peter, Rover, The Golden Gate Bridge). This is why the seasons are not given capital letters.

Examples of Lowercase and Capital Letters and the Seasons

Below are some examples of the seasons being used in sentences.
  • Where are you going this spring? correct tick
  • This is the second time I have been skiing this Winter. wrong cross
  • (In this example, the word "Winter" does not form part of a proper noun. Therefore, it should be written with a lowercase letter.)
  • Let's visit the Winter Palace. correct tick
  • (In this example, the word "Winter" does form part of a proper noun. Therefore, it is correctly written with capital letter.)
  • Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face. correct tick (French poet Victor Hugo)
  • There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been! correct tick (English poet Percy Bysshe)

When a Season Name Forms a Proper Noun

If a season name forms part of a name (i.e., a proper noun), then give it a capital letter. In the examples below, the proper nouns are in bold.
  • There were some incredible masks at the Rhine Winter Ball. correct tick
  • Each solstice is a domain of experience unto itself. At the Summer Solstice, all is green and growing, potential coming into being, the miracle of manifestation painted large on the canvas of awareness. At the Winter Solstice, the wind is cold, trees are bare and all lies in stillness beneath blankets of snow. correct tick (Author Gary Zukav)

Personification of the Season Names

Be aware there is an old ruling that states the following: "If a season is given a human trait (i.e., personified), then it can be given a capital letter."

Here is an example of this ruling:
  • He was touched by Winter's icy breath. correct tick
  • (In this example, "Winter" has been given a human trait.)
  • The leaves had been subjected to Autumn's touch. correct tick
  • (In this example, "Autumn" has been given a human trait.)
This is not a common convention. It has its roots in the idea that the season name becomes a person's name (i.e., a proper noun). However, we judge this style to be unaligned with conventional grammar. That said, if you are personifying a season, there's a fair chance you're not compiling a business document. In verse (e.g., songs, poetry), there is far more leniency on the rules for capitalization.
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.