Part Four Appendices

Appendix B Capitalization

some capital letter cutouts in a box
some capital letter cutouts in a box

Capitalization in English may be different from that in other languages in many ways. Before you start, remember that it is wrong to write a whole piece of writing in all capital letters. Instead, you should capitalize letters only when appropriate.


I. Capitalization Rules

1. Capitalize the first letter of the first word in a sentence.

  • Books are expensive here.
  • Two textbooks cost me over a hundred dollars.


2. The pronoun “I’ is always capitalized when referring to oneself.

  • I am a student.
  • You and I are both students.


3. The first letters of all the words related to specific names of continents, countries, nationalities, ethnicities, and languages are always capitalized.

  • My classmates come from Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, Central America, and South America.
  • They are from Korea, India, Ukraine, Egypt, Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru.
  • They are Korean, Indian, Ukrainian, Egyptian, Mexican, Guatemalan, and Peruvian.
  • They speak Korean, Gujarati, Ukrainian, Arabic, and Spanish.


4. The specific names of the months and days of the week are always capitalized.

  • The fall semester usually runs from late August to mid-December, spring from mid- January to mid-May, and summer from early June to end of July.
  • Most classes run on Mondays and Wednesdays, or Tuesdays and Thursdays.


5. Capitalize the first letter of each word in the proper nouns (except prepositions, articles, coordinating conjunctions, and “to” in an infinitive).

Proper nouns are specific or exact names of people, places, companies, colleges, cities, countries, nationalities, religions, holidays, product brands, school courses, etc. Do not capitalize the common names unless they are the first word in a sentence.


Please refer to Unit 16 Nouns for more explanations and examples about common nouns and proper nouns. (Open Unit 16 here.)


Common Nouns (General Names)

Proper Nouns (Specific or Exact Names)

There are many international students in American colleges.

In Spring 2016, there were 107 international students at Harper College.

Those international students came from 26 different countries.

They came from Brazil, Congo, China, Qatar, Moldova, etc.

Of course, many languages were represented by those students.

Those languages included Portuguese, French, Chinese, Arabic, Romanian, etc.

They also believed in different religions.

Some of the religions were Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

At Harper, some international students take ESL reading and writing courses for one or two semesters.

The advanced ESL courses are Reading V and Writing V.

All the courses are taught by experienced professors.

They are usually taught by Professor Nelson and Professor Garcia.

Of course, textbooks are required.

In Reading V, the textbook is “Reader’s Choice”.

Other international students take classes in computer, business, and science.

Some of the popular courses are CSC 121, ACC 101, and Bio 160.

The fall and spring semesters are 16 weeks long, while the summer semester is only 8 or 10.

In Summer 2021, ESL students took their writing class in 10 weeks and reading class in 8 weeks.

Most international students plan to transfer to other universities after they finish their study at Harper.

Many Harper students transfer to University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Illinois at Champion-Urbana.

The student clubs at Harper help them meet friends.

The International Students Club provides games, prizes, and snacks besides the opportunities to meet friends.

Most student clubs meet once a week.

The International Students Club meets every Thursday afternoon.

The clubs hold their regular meetings in one of the buildings on campus.

A few clubs meet in Building D.

Sometimes, the college president comes to greet the students.

Dr. Proctor, Harper’s current president, has been very impressed with what the clubs are doing.

Many international students love the museums, parks, and lakes in Chicago.

Their favorite places are Museum of Science and Industry, Millennium Park, and Lake Michigan.

During the holidays, Chicago hosts many celebrations and events.

On 4th of July, American’s Independent Day, there are usually fireworks. Taste of Chicago also attracts many people.

The number of international students and their countries of origin are taken from


II. Capitalization in Titles

  1. Capitalize the first letter of all major words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns)
  2. Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the), prepositions (in, on, from, etc.), and coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, etc.). However, capitalize them if they are the first words in the titles.
  3. Do not capitalize “to” in an infinitive unless it is the first word in the title.
  • The Best ESL Program
  • The Story of Our Mother and the Little Cat
  • My Reasons for Taking a Writing Course
  • Five Interesting Ways to Make a Living


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