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Using Capital Letters #5, by Dennis Oliver

Using Capital Letters (#4)


Capital (or upper-case) letters are important in English,
and there are many situations when you should use
them. We've already reviewed several basic situations
when capital letters are needed. Here are four more
very common ones:


Capitalize the first letter of the names of
continents and other divisions of the
world or a country.


Europe / Africa / Australia / Oceania

the Eastern Hemisphere /
the Southern Hemisphere

the Middle East / Central Europe

the Pacific Coast / the Arctic Circle

New England / the Midwest


Capitalize the names of states, provinces,
and other political divisions:

Arkansas / New Jersey / Idaho

Alberta / Saskatchewan / British Columbia

Sonora / Sinaloa / Chiapas

Gifu Prefecture / Minas Gerais / Valais

Maricopa County / Lafayette Parish


Capitalize the first letter of geographic
features (such as rivers, lakes, mountains,
etc.) when they have a name.


Mt. Everest / Mt. Fuji / Mt. Rainier

the Arctic Ocean / the Indian Ocean

the Gulf of Mexico / the Persian Gulf

the Mississippi River / the Amazon River

Lake Michigan / Lake Baikal

the Everglades / the Okefinokee Swamp

the Gobi Desert

the Isthmus of Panama

the Indonesian Archipelago


Capitalize city when it is part of a name:

New York City, New York

Kansas City, Kansas

Mexico City, Mexico

Kuwait City, Kuwait


Special Notes:


Do not capitalize continent and other
geographical divisions when they are
used without a name:


Africa is a continent.

The earth is often divided into
two hemispheres.

After many days at sea, the sailors were
happy when they finally sighted the coast.


Do not capitalize state, province, and
other political divisions when these words
are used generally:

I lived in five other states before I moved
to Arizona.

Which Canadian province is near the
state of Washington?

What's the largest prefecture in Japan?

Most U.S. states are divided into counties,
but Louisiana is divided into parishes.


Do not capitalize river, mountain, and
other geographic features when they are
used generally:


The mountains along Oregon's northern
coast are covered with evergreen forests.

In the 19th century, steamboats traveled
along many U.S. rivers.

Minnesota is known for its many lakes.

Phoenix, Arizona is a subtropical desert.


Do not capitalize city when it used in
a general way.

Flagstaff is a small city in northern Arizona.

What's the largest city in Brazil?

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