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CELPIP exam (any other serious exam) will evaluate your writing. Using capital letters is one of the many aspects. When doing your writing test you will need to take care of capitalization. Well written texts have good capitalization.

The English Capitalization Rules

The following rules apply when you write:

  1. Capitalize the first word in quotations, provided the quoted material is a complete sentence.
  2. Use capitals for proper nouns. In other words, capitalize the names of people, specific places, and things.
  3. Capitalize titles when they are on the signature line of a letter, when the title comes immediately before a name, or when the title replaces the use of a
    name (i.e., a title used as a direct address).
  4. Capitalize directions only when they refer to specific regions.
  5. All large words in the titles of movies, books, and other publications should be capitalized, while all small words (a, an, the, but, and, if, as, or, nor, to name
    a few) should not be capitalized unless they are the first or last words in the title.
  6. The first word of a salutation should be capitalized, as well as the first word of a closing.
  7. Capitalize words derived from proper nouns.
  8. Capitalize when two or more sentences follow a colon.
  9. Capitalize when referring to specific time periods
  10. Nationalities
  11. First-singular pronom

Capitalize the First Word in Quotations

Capitalize the first word in quotations, provided the quoted material is a complete sentence. For example:

Mike said, "Be the person your dog thinks you are."

Use Capitals for Proper Nouns

Use capitals for proper nouns. In other words, capitalize the names of people, specific places, and things. For example:

  • We don't capitalize the word "river" unless it starts a sentence, but we must capitalize on St-Laurent River because it is the name of a specific river.
  • The word "country" would not normally be capitalized, but we would have to write "Canada" with a capital "C" because it is the name of a specific country.
  • The word "state", while not normally capitalized, would be written with a capital if it is in the name of an organization, such as The State Board of Education.

Capitalize People Titles

Capitalize titles when they are on the signature line of a letter, when the title comes immediately before a name, or when the title replaces the use of a name (i.e., a title used as a direct address). Here are some examples:

  • Sincerely,
    Vicky Marquez, President
  • Ms. Vicky Marquez
  • Hello, Senator. It's nice to see you again. (you are talking directly to the person)

Do not capitalize titles when they are not used as a direct address to a person. For example:

  • The senator will be in town today to inspect the building of the railway.

Capitalize Directions

Capitalize directions only when they refer to specific regions. For example:

  • My favourite place in the world is Northern Ontario.

Do not capitalize "north," "south," "east," and "west" when giving directions:

  • Drive six blocks north, and then turn right.

Capitalize Larg Words in the Titles

All large words in the titles of movies, books, and other publications should be capitalized, while all small words (a, an, the, but, and, if, as, or, nor, to name a few) should not be capitalized unless they are the first or last words in the title:

  • A Life Less Ordinary (The word "A" would not normally be capitalized, but because it is the first word in the title, we must capitalize it.)
  • War of the Worlds(The words "of" and "the" are not capitalized because they are small and are not at the beginning or end of the title, though exceptions (/advice/what_to_capitalize_in_a_title.en.html) to the "small words" rule do exist.)
  • The House with the Clock in its Walls (the first word "The" and long words are capitalized)

Capitalize Salutations

The first word of a salutation should be capitalized, as well as the first word of a closing. For example:

  • Dear Billy,
  • Regards,
    John Smith

Capitalize Proper News and Derived Words

Capitalize words derived from proper nouns. For example:

  • I like English, but math is my favourite subject. (English is capitalized because it is derived from the proper noun England, while math is not capitalized because it is not derived from a proper noun.)

Specific course titles should, however, be capitalized. For example:

  • I don't know what I'm going to do. I have to take Math 101 next year and it looks hard!

Capitalize Sentences that Follow a Colon

Capitalize when two or more sentences follow a colon. For example:

  • We have set this restriction: Do your chores before watching television. That includes washing the dishes.

Do not capitalize after a colon if you are writing a list, or if there is only one sentence following the colon:

  • There are many metals hidden away within the earth's crust: gold, zinc, and lead are just a few examples.
  • There is a way to remember test information: study a lot the night before your big midterm!

Capitalize Time Periods

Capitalize when referring to a specific period of time. For example:

  • day names: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.
  • month names: January, February, March, April, etc.
  • holidays: Christmas, New Year, Eastern

Capitalize Nationalities

Capitalize nationalities (or any noun word referring the origin of a person). For example:

  • You, Canadian people, are well known for being polite
  • Sometimes it is hard to make a difference between Ontarians and Quebequois

Capitalize First Singular Pronom

Capitalize always the first-singular pronom ("I"). For example:

  • Yesterday I was reading a book
  • My dog and I were running in the park

Good Luck!

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