“Capital” is one of those words that may periodically need some looking over in terms of its capitalization, especially since it is so close to the word “capitol”. For reference, the word “capital” can refer either to an important city or town within a country or to a form of wealth owned by someone. There’s also capital letters, which is what we’ll talk about in the next paragraph in reference to when to use them when using the word “capital.” It can get a bit confusing, right? “Capitol,” on the other hand, refers to the a capitol building commonly located within a capital city. An easy way to remember the difference between these two words is that capitol has an “o” in it, which is the same shape as many circular capitol buildings.
Is Capital Capitalized?
Now, let’s talk about when to capitalize the word “capital.” The only time you need to worry about capitalizing the word “capital” is when you’re referring to a city or town, not when you’re referring to a type of wealth or capital letters.
More specifically, only capitalize the word “capital” when you are referring to an individual city or town, not the idea of a city or town. This is because when you’re referring to an individual city or town, you’re referring to a proper noun.
It’s the same reason you capitalize the names of people or countries, like the name Frances or the country France. For example, if you wanted to say, “Montgomery is the Capital of Alabama,” you would capitalize the word capital. Remember, use an “a” when talking about a capital city.
If you’re talking about the capitol building, you would say “The Capitol Building of Alabama is located in Montgomery.” However, if you want to talk about capitals more generally, you don’t need to use capitalization. For example, if you wanted to say, “The United States has many capital cities,” you would not capitalize the word capital.
See if you can identify why we have or have not capitalized the word “capital” in the following sentences:
- Capital cities are major decision-making centers in the United States.
- Major decisions about laws in the United States are made in capital cities.
- There are 50 capital cities in the United States.
- There are 50 capitals in the United States.
- There is a federal capital.
- There are state capitals.
- There is a federal capitol building.
- There is a federal capitol.
- There are state capitol buildings.
- There is a state capitol.
- Montgomery is Alabama’s State Capital.
- The State Capital of Alabama is Montgomery.
- In school, children are sometimes required to learn all of the state capitals.
- North Carolina’s State Capital is Raleigh.
- The North Carolina State Capital is Raleigh.
- North Carolina’s State Capitol building is located in Raleigh.
- North Carolina’s State Capitol is located in Raleigh.
Let’s review. “Capital” is different from “capitol.” The only time you capitalize “capital” is when you are referring to an individual capital city.
To learn more about proper title capitalization rules, give our free title capitalization tool a try.