# 3.9: Capitalization

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Proper nouns are capitalized. A proper noun is the formal name of a person, month, building, pet, day of the week, product, language, title, state, and many other things.

Common nouns are not capitalized. They are everyday, generic words like the list in the sentence above: “person,” “month,” “pet.”

Sometimes writers think nouns that are important to them should be capitalized, but feelings don’t matter in grammar. “My elementary school” is lower case unless you write “Oakhill Elementary School.” Then it is a title and a proper noun.

The same is true of family members. Once you write “my” in front of “grandma,” she becomes a common noun. If you write her as “Grandma,” the name you actually call her, then she is a proper noun.

Using proper nouns in your writing gives specificity to what you’re saying. If you say, “I went to a movie and it was good,” I know nothing except you went to some movie. But if you say, “I went to Moonrise Kingdom , and I loved it!” I know one interesting thing about you.

If you are not sure, dictionaries will tell you if nouns are proper or common and should be capitalized or not. If you are unsure, at least be consistent. It’s better to make one mistake three times than three separate mistakes.

This page titled 3.9: Capitalization is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Frost & Samra et al..