Why Do We Randomly Capitalize Words?

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Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 10.03.01 AMAs a proofreader, my number one change – by a long shot – is lower casing letters. It’s always been my biggest change. Random words that got the proper noun treatment without warrant, I return them back to their correct and lowercased status every time I switch on Track Changes. (Yes, that’s capitalized, as it’s a Word trademark.) Job titles, departments, and more are all shift+typed without reason, or rather, without clout. There is reason, after all, a majority of the population seems to think these words are actually capitalized. They believe they’re readily important, and I’m just the person demoting them with no cause.

But it’s not my rule, it’s English’s rule. We capitalize names, the first word in sentences, days of the week and months of the year, and anything else deemed “proper.” It’s also this last criteria that causes issues – in deciding what is actually proper that trips us up. But seeing as we’ve been English speakers since infanthood, you’d think we’d have much of it figured out by now, right? Yet there are so many exceptions. So many changes and inconsistencies within our language.

While, in German, every single noun is capitalized, here in English, we pick and choose. Therefore, we get confused. Folks don’t know, or don’t care, how these rules work and how they affect individual instances. Or, say you take the effort to look up a correct representation and risk offending someone who hasn’t done the same – because you lowercased what they thought deserved a capital, which scenario is better?

English certainly has its anomalies, when capitalizing, and in general. Understanding why these changes take place are one way to avoid mistakes … and to know why others make them too.

And if nothing else, it certainly helps to drown the nails out, every single time they scrape across that chalkboard.

Bethaney Wallace

Bethaney Wallace

Bethaney Wallace is a tea drinking, Amazon loving writer and editor. When she's not working on TSR or her personal blog, she loves reading and looking for new DIY projects.

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