Names of People

Basically, most people's names get capitalized. These words are proper nouns, which identify specific people, places, and things. The pronoun I is always capitalized, too. But, like so many other spelling and grammar rules, this can get tricky.

Names in a Family

Capitalize names in a family when they are right before a name, like Aunt June, or when they are used in place of a name, like Dad. If you are speaking about a person in your family who you actually call Aunt, Dad, or Grandmother, for example, you would capitalize those words.

Grandma Mary is my favorite person because she always brings me candy when she visits. She and Grandpa Bob always come to our house for Christmas.

In these two sentences, both names for Grandma Mary and Grandpa Bob are capitalized because they are being treated as proper names.

A REAL PAL

A palindrome is a word that is spelled the same forwards and backwards, like Bob or Madam . Can you think of any more?

Mistakes to A-v-o-i-d

Pronoun Alert

If you're having trouble figuring out whether to capitalize the family member's name, look to see whether you are putting a possessive pronoun in front of the word. If you are using the words my, his, or our in front of the member's name, you would most likely not capitalize it.

However, if you are talking about a family member in a general way, you don't capitalize aunt, dad, or grandmother.

My dad can never crack an egg without breaking the yolk, but my mom says most dads can't.

Let's walk over to the senior center. A lot of people's grandparents live there.

You wouldn't capitalize the family members' names in these sentences because they weren't referring to the people as proper nouns.

Titles

When a person has a title, like sergeant or doctor, you would capitalize that title when you are referring to that person specifically.

Sergeant Miller is the toughest man I know. Doctor Banks is the smartest doctor I know. He's a lot younger than Pastor Grant.

In these sentences, both the title and the person's name is capitalized. The same rule that applies to family members applies to people with titles, too. If you're talking about these people in a general way, the words are not capitalized.

The sergeant is moving to Virginia. I am going to the doctor. I saw the pastor at the grocery store.

There's a special trick to help you remember this rule. Just like a pronoun will let you know you don't need to capitalize a family member's name, an article (a, an, the) lets you know you don't have to capitalize someone's title.

Try This

Pop Quiz

What do you call people from Switzerland, Egypt, Spain, Italy, and Japan? Pick one or two countries that haven't been listed yet and add them to your spelling chart to study. Don't forget to capitalize them!

What do you call people from Switzerland, Egypt, Spain, Italy, and Japan? Pick one or two countries that haven't been listed yet and add them to your spelling chart to study. Don't forget to capitalize them!

Nationality

Because we're Americans, from the United States of America, we capitalize Americans. Always remember to capitalize the names of all countries and people from those countries. Here are some examples of countries to capitalize and the usual form of referring to their nationality.

Mexico Mexican
Canada Canadian
Sudan Sudanese
Brazil Brazilian
Russia Russian
France French

Mistakes to A-v-o-i-d

Capitalizing Names

Don't forget to also capitalize deities, like God or Buddha, religious figures, such as Pope Benedict XVI, and holy books, such as the Torah and the Bible.

Religions

It's also important to remember to capitalize everyone's religious preference, too. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and other regularly recognized religions are also capitalized.

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