When you write the days of the week, you capitalize their names. Here’s an example: On Saturdays, I hone my communication skills for my career development.
You do the same thing for months. Take this as an example. A majority of the motor-vehicle fatalities happen in July and August, which means that you need to exercise caution and drive safely during these months.
So are seasons capitalized, as well? Should you follow the same logic and apply the same capitalization rule just like in days and months?
The answer is not necessarily.
More often than not, you’ll see these words written completely in lowercase. This doesn’t automatically mean, however, that you’ll never have to capitalize seasons. You just need to be familiar with the rules. If you’re having trouble deciding when to capitalize season names (and when not to), this guide is for you.
Do You Capitalize Seasons?
Seasons come. Seasons go. Capitalizing the first letter of these words, in many cases, is a “no.”
Here’s why: The names of the seasons are common nouns.
You might be thinking, “What do the guidebooks say on this matter?” The capitalization of seasons in the AP stylebook is clear: both seasons, along with their derivatives, should be in small letters. Apart from the four seasons, any words that you form from them, such as summertime and wintertime, should be in lowercase.
You may argue that this rule is unfair. After all, people capitalize July and Tuesday, so why not summer?
This is a valid question. Then again, if people were to capitalize the names they give to specific time periods, wouldn’t they have to do the same thing to morning or afternoon? You can debate and argue (respectfully) as much as you like. Heck, you could even write to us to tell us your opinion on the capitalization of seasons.
As things stand right now, however, seasons are common nouns. This generally means no capital letters for them.
When to Capitalize Seasons
There are, of course, exceptions to the general rule.
Here are a few situations wherein you can capitalize the first letter of seasons:
When You Personify the Season
Personification is a figure of speech that gives an abstract notion, inanimate object or animal attributes or qualities found in a human being. If you’re planning to use a season this way, make sure that you capitalize the first letter of the word.
When You Use the Season As a Title
You should capitalize the name of the season when you use it as a title.
When You Begin a Sentence with a Season
You still need to adhere to normal sentence capitalization rules. If you’re starting a sentence with a season, you should capitalize the first letter of the word per usual.
When Used as a Proper Noun
You should capitalize a season when you plan to use them as part of a proper noun.
What are Examples of Seasons Beginning with a Capital Letter?
Here are a bunch of examples that show seasons spelled with a capital letter:
Seasons as a Proper Noun
- The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics will push through this year. Unfortunately, this marks the first time that the event will have no spectators in the stands.
- I saw some awesome masks at the Manchester Winter Ball.
- All is green and growing at the Summer Solstice.
Sentences that Start with a Season
- Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you’ve got to do is call.
- Summer is my favorite season.
- Spring is in the air. Can’t you smell it?
Season Used as a Title
- I love listening to Summer Sunshine, a song produced by The Corrs.
- Not sure what book you should read next? Consider “Russian Winter” by Daphne Kalotay, an engrossing fiction novel that combines notorious events in human history with personal history.
- Have you read the poem “Song for Autumn” by Mary Oliver?
- We will muse on Summer’s ploys (a line from “Summer” by Charles Mair)
- And Spring arose on the garden fair (a line from “The Sensitive Plant” by Percy Shelley)
- Autumn is a sassy season. She flips her skirts over the trees. They blush from what she reveals (taken from Seasons Personified, a poem by Jean Robinson)
Common Mistakes in Capitalizing Seasons
You don’t need to capitalize the words that refer to the four seasons (winter, spring, summer, and fall). Although some people believe that these nouns are proper and capitalize them accordingly, they are common nouns – so you should apply the same capitalization rules to them as you would to other common nouns.
Also, don’t capitalize seasons when you are using them as adjectives. For example, “summer days” is correct – not “Summer Days.” Similarly, there’s no need to capitalize the season if it is used as a verb (e.g., “I’m looking forward to springing”).
Finally, don’t confuse seasonal holidays with the seasons. Holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Hanukkah are proper nouns and should be capitalized accordingly. Seasons, however, remain common nouns and should not be capitalized.
This is an important rule to remember when writing about the seasons. By being consistent in your capitalization of common nouns, you will ensure that your writing is clear and correct.
Associated Words and Phrases with Seasons
To improve clarity:
- Remember to capitalize the names of seasons when they are included in a proper noun or a title, like the Summer Olympics.
- If your name is Summer, capitalize it. When writing creatively, you can capitalize a season’s name for emphasis, like how you might capitalize “Summer” if you want to personify it and convey how its warmth embraces you.
- Just remember to use lowercase when writing normally.
Similarly, you should capitalize Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, and Autumnal Equinox when referring to these astronomical phenomena. Other associated words and phrases that refer to the four seasons should also be capitalized, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or “the first day of Fall.”
Finally, capitalize when using adjectives like wintery and springlike. For example, you can write about a “Wintery Wonderland” or how someone has a “Springlike Glow.”
By understanding the basic rules of capitalization and remembering to pay attention to proper nouns, you can ensure that your writing is accurate and consistent when referring to seasons.
The Importance of Consistency in Capitalization
Capitalization is essential for indicating the beginning of a sentence and when referring to a specific noun instead of a general one. Changing from capitalized to lowercase words can signal a shift in the message and prompt the audience to ponder the overall intention.
Some people believe that there is always a right and wrong way when it comes to writing mechanics like spelling and punctuation. However, many gray areas in English have no straightforward answer. For example, both 9 a.m. and 9 AM are acceptable. So how do you choose which one to use?
Even though both U.S. and US are acceptable abbreviations for the United States, it’s still important to use the same variant throughout your document. Consistency in the use of variants has two significant benefits.
- Choosing a consistent style for acronyms can save you time and effort. For instance, if you write all acronyms without periods, you can avoid repeatedly deciding whether to include periods every time you use an acronym.
- To make your document appear more professional, it’s better to maintain consistency regarding styles and formats. Shifting between various styles can make your writing appear disorganized and unprofessional to readers. That’s why some companies require their employees to follow a specific style guide, such as the Chicago Manual or the AP Stylebook.
When capital letters are used inconsistently, it disrupts the reading process, makes understanding harder, and raises the risk of misinterpreting the message. Presenters need to follow proper capitalization standards to communicate effectively and efficiently in presentations.
Best Practices for Capitalization in Writing
Although English capitalization rules appear easy initially, some exceptions must be clarified. Proper nouns and the first word of a sentence must be capitalized. Additionally, the first word of a quote is capitalized in certain situations. Generally, you should not capitalize after a colon, but there are some circumstances where you should. When uncertain whether something is a proper noun, it can take time to determine if it should be capitalized.
Writing a word with its first letter in uppercase and the rest in lowercase is called capitalization. Using capitals sparingly and only when necessary is recommended, as experienced writers do. When in doubt, it’s best to avoid using them.
- First Word – Ensure that the first word you can find on a document is capitalized. Similarly, the word following a period should also be capitalized.
- Proper Nouns – Remember to capitalize proper nouns derived from them. Over time, some words taken from proper nouns have become common and no longer need capitalization. Capital letters highlight specific elements among groups of people, places, or things. For example, you can talk about a lake in the middle of a country, or you can be more precise and refer to Lake Michigan to distinguish it from other lakes around the world.
- Brand Names – When it comes to brand names, companies aren’t much help since they capitalize all words related to their products. This makes it challenging to determine where a brand name ends. For instance, most writers don’t capitalize common nouns that only describe products like pizza, hotel, or soap. However, it can be challenging to differentiate between a brand name and a common noun. While Time magazine is a brand name, the New York Times Magazine is not. Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola are undoubtedly brand names, but some may argue that Royal Crown Cola is not. When starting a sentence with a trademark with a lowercase letter, such as eBay or iPhone, it is recommended to capitalize the first letter.
- Titles – When titles are used before names, capitalize them unless a comma follows. If a title is used after a name or as a substitute for a name, do not capitalize it. This rule applies in the English language (US).
- Occupations – Take note that titles and occupations are different things. When using full names, do not capitalize occupations. There can be confusion between title and occupation, such as with “general manager” or “professor.” Some consider these to be titles, while others consider them job descriptions. The Associated Press Stylebook recommends using lowercase for “professor” even before the full name, such as “Professor Philip Jones.”
- Geographical Regions – Capitalize proper geographical regions, but do not capitalize directions such as north, south, east, or west. Some regions should also be capitalized due to their popularity or infamy.
- The word The – In general, do not capitalize the word the before proper nouns. In special cases, a word may be capitalized if it is an inseparable part of an official title.
- Kinship Names – To ensure clarity, capitalize kinship names when used before a personal name or on their own instead of a personal name. However, do not capitalize them when they come after the personal name, are used with possessive nouns or pronouns, follow an article such as a, an, or the, or do not refer to a specific person.
- Quotes – When you write a complete quotation, capitalize the first word. However, if the quoted material continues a sentence, do not capitalize it. This applies regardless of the language used.
- Composition Titles – Capitalize the first and last word of the title, as well as all adjectives, adverbs, nouns, pronouns (including “it”), and verbs (including all forms of “to be” verbs). Do not capitalize articles unless they’re at the beginning or end of the title, and do not capitalize coordinating conjunctions unless they’re at the beginning or end of the title. Also, do not capitalize “no,” “not,” or the interjection “O.” When using an infinitive in a title, only capitalize the word “to” if it is the first or last word in the title.
- Prepositions – There is a disagreement about capitalizing prepositions. According to the Associated Press Stylebook, prepositions of more than three letters should be capitalized (e.g., with, about, across). However, some experts suggest waiting until a preposition is five or more letters before capitalizing. Some believe no prepositions should be capitalized, even underneath and regarding.
- Hyphenated Words – Titles that include hyphenated words can be confusing because there are no consistent rules for capitalization. Generally, the first word should always be capitalized, even if it wouldn’t usually be. For example, “My To-go Order” could be written as “My To-Go Order.” However, some editors and publishers only capitalize words after hyphens if they are proper nouns or adjectives. For instance, “Ex-Marine” would be capitalized, but “Ex-husband” would not. Others capitalize every word usually capitalized in a title, such as “Prize-Winning” and “Up-to-Date.”
- Books with Subtitles – When a book has a subtitle, you should use a colon after the main title and follow the rules for capitalization for the subtitle. For example, if you are reviewing the book “THE STUFF OF THOUGHT,” which has the subtitle “LANGUAGE AS A WINDOW INTO HUMAN NATURE,” both the main title and subtitle should be capitalized properly.
Capitalization is an important aspect of writing that should be taken seriously. It can help improve clarity and professionalism in your work and make it easier for readers to understand the message you are trying to convey. While there are some exceptions where capitalization may not be necessary or appropriate, understanding basic rules and guidelines will ensure that you use them correctly when needed. With a bit of practice, anyone can master the art of proper capitalization!
Quiz Time: Should You Capitalize This Season?
Let’s see how well you know when to capitalize seasons. See if you can determine the correct answers to this short exercise:
- Some birds travel south for the (winter, Winter).
- I met the love of my life at the (summer, Summer) solstice.
- My dad used to say that (autumn, Autumn) was the best season.
- During the holidays, I often hear the song (winter, Winter) Wonderland on the radio.
- Cozy up in military-style outerwear this (fall, Fall).
We hope that this handy guide gives you the answer to the question “Are seasons capitalized?” Just remember these rules we’ve outlined if you plan to use the name of a season in your writing.