Capitalization and Apostrophes

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Capitalization is a fundamental aspect of English grammar that helps convey the importance of words and aids in the proper interpretation of sentences. Apostrophes are vital for making contractions and indicating possession, helping to develop connected speech and speaking smoothly. Although the rules are similar to many other languages, some nuances should be understood. In this article, you will learn how to capitalize words correctly and how to use apostrophes in English.

Capitalization rules

When it comes to capitalization, the English language might surprise many learners. There are some cases which you won't meet in other languages. So, in English, you have to capitalize:

  • months;
  • days of the week;
  • holidays;
  • seasons (in certain cases);
  • names of people and places;
  • titles; 
  • names of institutions.

Always capitalize days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, etc.) and months of the year (January, February, etc.) These nouns represent specific entities and require capital letters. The same rule applies to holidays, including religious, national, cultural, and others (e.g., Christmas, Independence Day, Halloween). Seasons are not capitalized unless they are a part of a proper noun or title. (e.g., Winter Olympics).

Names, initials, and middle names of people should be capitalized in all cases. (e.g., Alan Smith, Joe Fletcher, etc.) As well, you should use capital letters for titles (Dr. Harvest, Queen Elizabeth).

Everything related to geographical locations should be capitalized, including names of cities, countries, continents, rivers, or mountains. Moreover, specific parts of locations should be started with a capital letter (e.g., West Coast, the Middle East).

The last category is non-obvious since it relates to derived terms. There are two rules here.

  1. Words derived from proper nouns that still retain a direct association with the original proper noun are capitalized (e.g., American cuisine, Shakespearean drama). 
  2. When the derived term loses its direct association with the proper noun, it's no longer capitalized (e.g., herculean effort, quixotic adventure).

When writing, language learners sometimes make mistakes related to capitalization. However, you can overcome this barrier quickly. Memorize the rules, learn from reading, and always review your copies or letters. In digital writing, use writing tools to check the text faster.


Apostrophes in English

The apostrophe helps clarify meaning by indicating possession and forming contractions, making it a valuable tool for effective and accurate communication. At the same time, its misuse can greatly spoil the meaning of your words.

The are two main functions of apostrophes in the English language:

  1. Making contractions.
  2. Indicating possessions.

Contractions are combinations of two words. They are made by omitting some letters from words and adding the apostrophe. Here are some examples:

  • There is = there’s;
  • I am = I’m;
  • He'd = he would, or he had. 

Contractions help to enhance readability, develop connected speech, and improve communication flow. The apostrophe in contractions shows where letters from the original words have been removed. 

Explore Capitalization and Apostrophes in English

Apostrophes are also used when indicating possession in the English language. Here are the basic rules:

  • In singular possession, the apostrophe should follow the noun, and then you must add "s." For example, the dog's leash, Jack's book, etc.
  • In plural possession, the apostrophe should be added after the noun without adding "s." For example, the dogs' leashes and the players' efforts. If the plural noun doesn't end in "s," you should add the apostrophe and then "s." For example, the children's toys.

One of the most common common mistakes is using an apostrophe to make a noun plural, which is incorrect. For example, some language learners write "apple's," meaning a plural of one apple, which is incorrect. Keep in mind that the apostrophe is not used to create plural forms of nouns in the English language.


Language learners usually understand the rules of using apostrophes and capital letters very fast. However, these two categories of the English language have some challenging rules. Without a proper understanding, the learner might make a mistake in writing. So practice the rules you've learned in this article by completing some exercises and reading in English.C

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