We always capitalize days of the week and months of the year in writing. However, when it comes to seasons of the year, we don’t capitalize the name of the season. If we did, we would have to capitalize every particular time period, even those occurring throughout the day, like morning and afternoon. This would look absurd and get quite confusing.
Are Seasons Capitalized?
No, seasons are generally not capitalized. Seasons, such as fall, spring, winter, and summer are general nouns, not proper nouns so therefore seasons shouldn’t be capitalized. Days of the week and months of the year are proper nouns instead so they are always capitalized. Therefore, the capitalization that applies to proper nouns isn’t applicable to seasons.
The 9th edition of the MLA Handbook specifically states that seasons should be lowercase in works-cited as well.
However, the answer to whether seasons are capitalized is not as straightforward as people might think. Some style guides say that if a season name is used in an adjective sense (e.g., “winter coat”), it should be capitalized; others argue that only grammatically nouns should be capitalized. According to The Associated Press Stylebook, there are no hard and fast rules for this question. If you study this book, it will help you answer the question, “When do you capitalize seasons?”
When Do You Capitalize Seasons?
There are situations, however, when you should capitalize seasons. For example, at the beginning of a sentence where the rule of the capitalizing the first letter applies (E.g.: Summer is the best season of the year, but fall is not). Other examples of when you can capitalize fall are when the season forms part of a proper noun, or when it’s a part of a title. For example, in ‘Fall Games’ or ‘Fall Semester.’
Another example is when seasons are personified in a piece of creative writing, such as in poems. But this only applies when seasons are given life in such writing.
When season names are used as a proper noun
Proper nouns are the specific names of people, places and things. All proper nouns are capitalized. Whether they appear at the beginning of a sentence or not, they must be capitalized. You should have seasons capitalized if you use them as proper nouns.
“The Spring Concert will feature the band as well as a guest appearance by Janet Jackson.”
In this sentence, “spring” is not used to describe a season; instead, it refers to an event that occurs in the springtime (the same logic applies to fall and winter). Since “spring” is being used as a proper noun, it should be capitalized.
“The group chose the name Summer Breeze for their band.”
In this sentence, ‘summer’ is not used in an adjective sense; instead, it identifies the specific type of band. Since “summer” is being used as a proper noun, it should be capitalized.
“In the summertime, I like to go swimming in the lake near my house with friends and family members.
In this sentence, ‘summertime’ refers to a time of year (i.e., summer). Since “summertime” is not a proper noun, it should be written in lower case letters.
“I am looking for the winter coat that I wore last year when we went skiing up in the mountains.
In this sentence, ‘winter’ is being used to describe the type of coat that is being searched for. Since “winter” is not a proper noun, it should be written in lower case letters.
When season names are at the start of a sentence
In grammar, all sentences start with a capital letter and end with a period, question mark or exclamation point. If season names are at the beginning of sentences, they should be written in upper case letters.
“Winter is my favorite time of year.”
In this sentence, ‘winter’ begins the statement; however, it is not used as a proper noun (i.e., to identify the specific type of season).In such a case, it should be written in the upper case.
When seasons are used as a title
When seasons are used in titles, they should be written in upper case. Titles of books, movies and plays should be capitalized.
“I am currently reading ‘Winter is Coming: Preparing Your Family for the Inevitable Collapse of Western Civilization.”
“Hollywood released the movie ‘Spring Breakers’ last year.”
The first example is a title of a book, while the second example is a movie title. They must be capitalized even if they appear in the middle of a sentence.
When seasons are personified
Personification refers to giving human characteristics to objects, animals, and ideas. It is acceptable to personify seasons when writing about them. Seasons capitalized in this manner imply they are living, breathing things that have feelings and emotions. Personification is the act of attributing human traits to non-human subjects or objects; it’s common in literature (e.g., The sun was shining brightly). When writing about seasons as personified beings, they should be capitalized like any other proper noun.
“I would hate for Winter to come because it is so cold outside.”
The season of winter has human qualities in this sentence (i.e., hating). It should be capitalized even if written in the middle of a sentence since ‘winter’ appears as part of a personified subject.
“I love Spring because it is a time to celebrate new life and brighten up your day with flowers.
In this sentence, ‘spring’ has human qualities (i.e., loving). Spring season should be capitalized even if written in the middle of a sentence since ‘spring’ appears as part of a personified subject.
“I can’t wait for Summer because it is time to have fun at the beach with friends and family.”
In this sentence, ‘summer’ has human qualities (i.e., waiting). The summer season should be capitalized even if written in the middle of a sentence since ‘summer’ appears as part of a personified subject.
Do You Capitalize Summer?
The short answer is no, the word “summer” is a generic noun which does not require capitalization as per rules of capitalization for seasons. This rule applies to the names of all the seasons. You do not capitalize seasons when used in writing.
This rule has an exception when the word is used in a title, is used as a proper noun, or is the first word of a sentence. When you start a sentence with “summer” or are using it in a title, it should be capitalized. If you use summer as a proper noun, such as in “Summer Semester,” it must also be capitalized.
Another exception in which you should capitalize summer is when it is personified in poetry. Apart from these exceptions, there is no need to capitalize seasons, including summer, for any writing purposes.
So, the next time you are confused about capitalization rules for seasons, read these rules carefully to avoid capitalizing the word “summer” in the wrong places.
Is the Season Winter Capitalized?
In general, you should not capitalize the word winter since it is a common noun and not a proper noun. But there are obviously a few exceptions where one has to capitalize the word winter.
When winter is used as a title or when it is used at the beginning of a sentence (such as “Winter is Coming”) are two examples of when winter should be capitalized. Also when winter is used as a proper noun it should be capitalized. Winter can also be capitalized it when it is personified such as in a poem.
The word winter does not necessarily need to be capitalized considering it is a generic noun. People normally confuse this word for a proper noun and capitalize it based on it being a proper noun. Generally, the word winter should not be capitalized.
The temperatures are usually low during the winter season.
The word winter as a title
When the word winter is used like a title one will have to capitalize it since it is a rule to capitalize titles.
The Winter Holiday Was Very Chilly
“Winter” was included in a title and we must follow title capitalization rules and capitalize it.
The words winter as a proper noun
It is a rule in the English language that proper nouns have to be capitalized, so when using the word winter as a proper noun you have to capitalize it.
The Winter Gala is an event held every year in December.
In this case “Winter Gala” is the name of an event so “winter” is part of a proper noun. Therefore it should be capitalized.
Is the Season Fall Capitalized? Is Autumn Capitalized?
Determining when should seasons be capitalized is necessary for grammar. Do you capitalize seasons only at the beginning of a sentence or there are more ways? It is essential to know when to capitalize seasons and when not to because it can change the meaning of a sentence. Seasons can be capitalized in either of the four ways highlighted above.