PDA

View Full Version : Capitalize or not?


writingismypassion
04-07-2011, 08:26 PM
Okay, I did a search but didn't find anything so I'm sorry if this has been discussed.

Should seasons be capitalized? Summer vs. summer? Winter vs. winter, etc?

Also, should school years be capitalized? Junior years vs. junior year? And what about this: High School vs. high school?

Thanks for the help! I always get caught up on this and I have noticed I am not very consistent when using these words.

Terie
04-07-2011, 08:31 PM
I see seasons both ways. Pick one and be consistent. It's inconsistency that drives editors nuts.

School years should not be capitalised. Sam was in tenth grade (or fifth year). Mary was in high school. James went to City Heights High School. The latter is a proper noun.

RJK
04-07-2011, 08:40 PM
According to the AP style guide seasons are lowercase. If you say someone is in high school you use lower case but if he went to La Salle High School you would capitalize it. If he was in eleventh grade you would use lower case but he would be a Junior with upper case, because it's a title.

Netz
04-07-2011, 09:26 PM
I have a query about this sort of thing too, so can I hop aboard this thread?

RJK has used the example of 'Junior' because it's a title. In my YA fantasy I've been calling the king of the land 'the King' (when I'm not referring to him by name) but don't do the same for the prince. Should I capitalise both or neither?

(Thanks in advance!)

Terie
04-07-2011, 09:34 PM
If he was in eleventh grade you would use lower case but he would be a Junior with upper case, because it's a title.

Not according to Merriam-Webster. 'Junior' is no more a title than 'mother', 'doctor', or 'first-grader'. None of these are capitalised when not used as a proper noun.

I went to the doctor.
My mother is that lady sitting over there.
Johnny is a first-grader, and his big sister, Mary, is a junior in high school.

maestrowork
04-07-2011, 09:36 PM
In general, capitalize if it's used as a name or title; otherwise, use lowercase:

We saw Prince William the other day. Someone asked the Prince for an autograph.

We saw Prince William the other day. He was quite a prince.

heza
04-07-2011, 09:53 PM
Johnny is a first-grader, and his big sister, Mary, is a junior in high school.

But it would be capitalized if a senior called after her, "Hey, Junior, come over here," right?

heza
04-07-2011, 09:55 PM
In general, capitalize if it's used as a name or title; otherwise, use lowercase:

We saw Prince William the other day. Someone asked the Prince for an autograph.

We saw Prince William the other day. He was quite a prince.


What would you suggest in the following cases:

"I saw my prince the other day."

"May I have an autograph, my prince?"

Chase
04-07-2011, 10:05 PM
I've also seen the seasons capitalized but most often when personified, as in "old man Winter bowed to Spring's colorful dress." I'd follow AP and Chicago to keep them lower case.

The problem with capitalization of titles is deciding when it's really a title or a common noun.

Rallying his troops at Nottingham, King Charles gave Prince John command of the archers. Those are properly capitalized titles.

The king gave the prince a command. Those aren't titles any more than the horseman and the caretaker are titles.

Terie
04-07-2011, 10:07 PM
But it would be capitalized if a senior called after her, "Hey, Junior, come over here," right?

Well, not really, not in that context. You wouldn't say, 'Hey, Kid, come over here', or 'Hey, Pooch, come here'. It would be, 'Hey, kid, come over here,' or 'Hey, pooch, come here'.

Now, if 'Junior' was the nickname someone went by, then it would be capitalised.

maestrowork
04-07-2011, 10:34 PM
What would you suggest in the following cases:

"I saw my prince the other day."

"May I have an autograph, my prince?"



Lowercase. "My prince" is not a title or a name. It's kind of a term, like "my sweets" or "my mom." You wouldn't capitalize them.

honeybaby
04-07-2011, 11:55 PM
What would you suggest in the following cases:

"I saw my prince the other day."

"May I have an autograph, my prince?"

I capitalize Sir and Ma'am when used to address somebody directly, so by extension I might be inclined to capitalize Prince in that second instance. The rules aren't really clear to me, but off the cuff I think anything a speaker intends as an honorific ought to be capitalized.

I capitalize the seasons on the same principal as names of months. No personification needed. They're just names.

V_writes
04-08-2011, 01:14 AM
I vote for don't capitalize the seasons or the high school years. Either way you decide, make sure you're consistent with it.

n3onkn1ght
04-08-2011, 01:52 AM
Remembereth always the Word of Douglas Adams:

"The door was the way to....to....The Door was the Way. Good. Capital letters were the best way of dealing with questions you don't have a good answer to."

I've found that the importance of making something capitalized lies in the impact you want that word to have. To me, capitalizing a word like "The Prince" and making it into a definite article implies someone more grandiose, more central, more definitve than "The prince", which could be anyone, really.

In my manuscript, I capitalize words which take on almost talismanic properties for the society, like saying people have "a Purpose" instead of a "a purpose". Of course, as the Adams quote implies, that can look pretentious and pompous if you do it too much, but my society's already full of itself anyway. :)

Chase
04-08-2011, 02:43 AM
I capitalize the seasons on the same principal as names of months. No personification needed. They're just names.

On your principle, sir or ma'am, as the case may be, we should capitalize all nouns, as in written German. Not a bad plan, but not the same plan as the majority of writers published in the U.S.

n3onkn1ght
04-08-2011, 02:47 AM
we should capitalize all nouns, as in written German.

Not to mention revolutionary-period writing like Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson.