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Capitalisation of Names

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Basics on the topic Capitalisation of Names

Proper Nouns – Definition

Proper nouns are nouns that name specific people, places, holidays, products, days of the week and months. Some examples of proper nouns are: James, Florida, Easter, Monday and January.

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Proper Nouns – Capitalisation

When we talk about proper nouns, it is always important to talk about capitalisation. When we capitalise a word, it means that we use a big (capital) letter at the beginning of the word.

You probably already know some rules on capitalising proper nouns: for example, you should always capitalise names like Samantha and Daniel. But what about other proper nouns? We should capitalise the other proper nouns too!

When to capitalise proper nouns? We always capitalise proper nouns to help the reader understand that we are talking about specific people, places, days, or months.

Proper Nouns – Categories

There are many examples of proper nouns in English. The most common proper nouns are names and surnames. We use them to name specific people. Here are some examples: Emma Smith, Oliver Johnson, Noah Williams, Sophia Lee, Caleb Hall.

Another kind of proper nouns are geographical names. They are names of specific places, like continents, countries, cities, states, streets, oceans, seas, lakes, parks, forests, etc. Here are examples of some geographical names: North America, Mexico, Manchester, Yorkshire, Scotland, Cornwall, London, United Kingdom, Atlantic Ocean.

The names of holidays are also proper nouns. We capitalise the names of holidays like Christmas, Guy Fawkes, Halloween or Easter.

Proper nouns also include the names of products. It can be the name of your favourite cereal, drink, or chocolate. By using proper nouns you let people know that you are not talking about all the cereal in the world, but about a specific cereal brand.

Finally, days of the weeks and months is another type of proper nouns. We capitalise all seven days of the week and all the twelve months. Use this table to remember the categories of proper nouns:

Category Examples
Names and surnames Marion White, Kevin Dawson
Geographical names Africa, Canada, Ireland, London
Holidays Christmas, Saint Patrick’s Day
Products CrunchyFlakes Cereal, Pearlfresh Toothpaste
Days of the week and months Wednesday, November

Proper Nouns – Summary

Let’s review what we learned about proper nouns today.

Proper nouns are nouns that name specific people, places, holidays, products, days of the week and months. We capitalise proper nouns to help the reader understand that we are talking about specific people, places, products, days, or months.

You can use this list to remember the categories of proper nouns:

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Now you know how to capitalise proper nouns! If you would like more capitalisation of proper nouns practice, check out our capitalising proper nouns worksheets, capitalising proper nouns exercises, and watch the video about proper nouns.

Did you enjoy our article about the rules for capitalising proper nouns? Check out our materials on abstract nouns.

Frequently Asked Questions about Proper Nouns

What are proper nouns?
What are the examples of proper nouns?
Should you capitalise proper nouns?
Why do we capitalise proper nouns?
Do you always capitalise all proper nouns?

Transcript Capitalisation of Names

Koko and Pip are in search of a special gift for Grandma. To help find it, they need to use their helicopter's fancy mapping system! "Remember Pip, we must type in the names correctly, even capital letters!" Let's travel with Koko and Pip, and learn all about proper nouns. You may remember that you always capitalise the names of people and the pronoun, ‘I’. But what other nouns need to be capitalised? Proper nouns! A proper noun is the name of specific people, places, holidays, products, days of the week and months. We always capitalise proper nouns because it helps the reader to know that we are talking about the name of something! Examples of proper nouns include names of people, such as Sophy, names of places, like America or Chicago and geographical names, such as the Lake District, or Dartmoor. Proper nouns we also capitalise include holidays, such as Christmas or Halloween, days and months, such as Monday and January and the names of products, like your favourite ice cream or cereal. Wow, what a lot of proper nouns to remember to capitalise! But, you can help yourself by asking, ‘is this the name of a specific person, place, holiday, product, day of the week or a month?' Now you know more about capitalising proper nouns, let's help Koko and Pip! "The first place we should look is New York City, I hear they have lots of gifts there!" New York City is the name of a specific place so this must be capitalised, as it is a proper noun. Koko types New York City into the map, with a capital ‘N’, capital ‘Y’ and a capital ‘C’, like this! "Well, we didn't find anything here. Why don't we go to the Eiffel Tower and see what's there instead?" Did you hear the proper noun that Koko said? Koko said 'Eiffel Tower', which is the name of a famous landmark in Paris, the capital of France. She will type this with a capital ‘E’ and a capital ‘T’. "There is no gift special enough here! How about our friend Bertha at The Banana Store?" We just heard two proper nouns this time. Do you know what they are? They are the name of their friend, 'Bertha' and the name of a shop, 'The Banana Store'. What needs to be capitalised in these proper nouns? This means there should be a capital ‘B’, capital ‘T’, capital ‘B’ and a capital ‘S’ like this. "Ah, we've found the perfect gift, so let's head home!" While Koko and Pip make their way home, let's remember! A proper noun is the name of specific people, places, holidays, products, days of the week and months and we always capitalise them! To identify and capitalise proper nouns, ask yourself, ‘is this the name of a specific person, place, holiday, product, day of the week or a month?' If yes, it is a proper noun so capitalise the first letter in each word. "Here you go Grandma, we hope you love your new gift! No Grandma! We know you love bananas, but that's a phone!"

Capitalisation of Names exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learnt? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Capitalisation of Names.
  • What is a proper noun?

    Hints

    Examples of proper nouns are: Monday, April and Christmas.

    Look at this picture to remember what proper nouns are. Example: The pumpkin and egg represent Halloween and Easter. Halloween and Easter are proper nouns, since they are both holidays.

    Solution

    A proper noun is the name of specific people, places, holidays, products, days of the week and months.

  • Connect the proper nouns.

    Hints

    Remember, you are matching the type of proper nouns to examples of those proper nouns.

    Think about the categories on the left. Which category on the right matches it? If the category on the left is holidays, where do you see holidays listed?

    Solution

    All of these are examples of proper nouns! A proper noun can be a person, day of the week, holiday, place or product.

    Names of people: Kate, Jonas, Eric.

    Days of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

    Holidays: Christmas, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Halloween

    Places: New York, London, Australia, Mexico, Antarctica

    Products: Sammy's Divine Donuts, Manny's Hot Pizza

  • Which words are proper nouns?

    Hints

    Remember, you are highlighting proper nouns. Proper nouns can be: holidays, days of the week and names of people.

    The first word in a sentence is always capitalised, but sometimes it is not a proper noun.

    For example, in the sentence: "Saturday is my birthday!" 'Saturday' is a proper noun. In another sentence: "My birthday is on Saturday," 'My' is not a proper noun. It is capitalised to show the beginning of a new sentence.

    There are 5 proper nouns for you to find and highlight!

    Remember, proper nouns always start with a capital letter.

    Solution

    It is really fun to celebrate Halloween. Halloween happens in October. Last year, it was on a Saturday, so we stayed up late with my friend Coco! We had so much fun.

    The word Halloween is a proper noun, it is a holiday.

    October is a proper noun, it is a month.

    Saturday is a proper noun, it is a day of the week.

    Coco is a proper noun, it is a person's name.

  • Which words are proper nouns?

    Hints

    Halloween and Easter are proper nouns, since they are the names of holidays.

    There are four proper nouns to select.

    Could any of these words be written with a lower case starting letter if it was in the middle of a sentence? If so, it is a common noun.

    Solution

    When deciding if a word is a proper noun, we ask ourselves: Is this the name of a specific person, place, holiday, product, day or the week or month?

    The proper nouns are: Christmas, United States of America, September and Germany.

  • When do we capitalise proper nouns?

    Hints

    Look at these proper nouns: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. What do you notice?

    In the sentence: "My friend Sophy is coming over on Friday! We are going to the Super Toy Store!" Are the capital nouns in this sentence capitalised always, sometimes or never?

    Solution

    We always capitalise proper nouns, because we are talking about the name of something.

  • Identify the proper nouns.

    Hints

    Independence Day is a holiday in the United States of America.

    California is a state in the Western side of the USA.

    Solution

    Jessica and Sam are specific names of people, they are proper nouns.

    Wednesday is a day of the week, it is a proper noun.

    Independence Day is a proper noun, since it's a holiday.

    California is a specific state, it is a proper noun.