Do You Capitalize English?

English is the most common language in the world so it’s likely that you’ve asked the question before. Whether you’re writing an essay, marketing materials, or email, you may ask:

Is English Capitalized?

The short answer is yes, you capitalize the word English regardless of whether you’re referring to the nationality, the school subject, or the language because all of these are proper nouns.

Normally English is a proper noun and all proper nouns in the English language are capitalized. Even when used as an adjective, such as in the “English language” or the “English curriculum,” English is capitalized because according to this Wikipedia article adjectives derived from proper nouns retain their capitalization:

In English, adjectives derived from proper nouns (except the names of characters in fictional works)Β usuallyΒ retain their capitalization
– e.g. a Christian church, Canadian whisky, a Shakespearean sonnet, but not a quixotic mission, malapropism, holmesian nor pecksniffian.

Where the original capital is no longer at the beginning of the word, usage varies: anti-Christian, but Presocratic or Pre-Socratic or presocratic (not preSocratic).

English, and other nationalities and languages, are capitalized since they are proper nouns. Even the word “British” to describe nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, including England, is capitalized.


  1. It also should be noted that the same Wikipedia article mentioned above includes the following paragraph: ‘Owing to the essentially arbitrary nature of orthographic classification and the existence of variant authorities and local house styles, questionable capitalization of words is not uncommon, even in respected newspapers and magazines.’
    Keeping in mind that also that same article says ‘usually’ (as opposite to always) reminds me that language is a dynamic entity and, as such, subject to changes, mostly when no scientific or academic rules can be referenced.


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