There is some confusion over the way the word dollar should be capitalized, or not, within a sentence. It can be a confusing concept to native and non-native English speakers alike. In general, the way you write the word “dollar” or “Dollar” depends on the context of where the word is being used. You may be asking yourself the question: is the word “dollars” written with a capital or lowercase letter?
Is Dollar Capitalized?
Generally, any proper noun is capitalized, thus the name of a specific person, place or thing. Common nouns (people, places or things in general) are not capitalized in English. So the first thing to do here is to determine whether the word “dollars” is a common or proper noun.
While it could be argued that when referring to the US “Dollar” as a whole (a monetary currency), it is a proper noun. At the same time, “dollar” or “dollars” is generally referred to as a common noun. As a result, the word is not capitalized.
So the next question: how do you distinguish between “dollar” and “dollars” in general vs. “Dollar” as a proper noun currency? Though linguists do make arguments for and against capitalizing this word and currencies in general, here are the commonly accepted instances in which it is appropriate to write “dollar” with a capital letter:
- At the start of a sentence (e.g. “Dollars were left on the table”).
- In an official title or heading (e.g. an article with the title “Comparing Production of Dollars and Coins”).
- When referring to the federal currency in an official capacity (e.g. “The US Dollar has decreased in value”).*
Note that there is an asterisk (*) at the end of the third option since this is not the opinion of all linguists. Though many will agree you also write dollars with a lowercase letter when referring to the federal currency as an entity, it is also commonly accepted and used with a capital letter in official documents and reports.
In addition to the confusion over whether this word should be classified as a proper or a common noun, there is added confusion when you consider other currencies. If we look at the word “euro”, for example, many people will write “Euro” instead. This seems natural to many people since “Europe” and “European” are both proper nouns that must be capitalized. In addition, Germany is the strongest economy in the “Eurozone” (which is a proper noun), and since the German language capitalizes all nouns (proper and common), that could result in many people carrying over the German language rules to English. In English though, “euro” should actually be written with a lowercase letter.
Dollars or dollar as a common noun is always written with a lowercase letter, with the exception of starting a sentence (such as this one) or in a title/heading.
The US Dollar can be referred to as a proper noun (and capitalized) in some official documents.