Quiz: Can You Capitalize These Sentences Correctly?: HowStuffWorks
Can You Capitalize These Sentences Correctly?
By: Zoe Samuel
6 Min Quiz
Image: Getty Images via 81a/Photolibrary
About This Quiz
The Roman alphabet you see on this page has been with us for a couple of thousand years at this point. It's vastly superior to systems that came before, which were mostly hieroglyphic and thus did not offer letters or combinations of letters that convey a phoneme - that is, a sound within speech. The Roman alphabet uses 26 letters in its current iteration, plus 26 capital versions of each letter, and by combining them in different ways, we can put across any thought or idea that humans are capable of having.
This alphabet is not quite as clear as the phonetic alphabet, where the phonemes are locked to the symbols. For example, the "ou" in bough and through come out differently. However, it is clearer in that it offers capital letters. These are markers that signify when a word is at the start of a sentence when it is a proper noun - that is, a place name, a person's name, etc. - when it is a title, and so on. They can also be used to suggest shouting or volume, and even for comical effect. English is less free with their use than German, but it does have a few places it absolutely insists on them. Do you know when they should appear? Let's find out!
What is the correct capitalization in the sentence "london bridge is falling down"?
London Bridge is falling down! The city would always get the capital letter; the bridge gets it because London Bridge is a specific bridge and this is its name.
How might you fix this: "i'm going to the party"?
I'm going to the party! In English, we always capitalize "I", even when it is in the middle of a sentence. It's as if it is a proper noun.
What's wrong here: "i spoke to mary"?
I spoke to Mary. That's because I get a capital letter, and so does Mary, as her name is a proper noun.
Can you correct this one: "he likes going to new york"?
He likes going to New York. Who doesn't, after all? "He" is at the start of a sentence so gets a capital letter, and "New York" is the name of the city.
Where are the capitals in this sentence: "in hartford, hereford, and hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen"?
In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen. Place names are always proper nouns, but common nouns like "hurricane" are not, unless you mean a specific one eg Hurricane Ike.
Where are the capitals in: "god said that he would smite them"?
In English, God is considered a special case, if you mean the monotheistic deity of the Abrahamic religions. Thus, it is correct to write He, His, and Him, even in the middle of sentences.
How would you capitalize: "would you like some squash soup"?
Would you like some squash soup? You always start a sentence with a capital, hence you need one for the "Would."
Where do you need capitals in: "it's a long way to tipperary"?
It's a long way to Tipperary! The snetence opens with a capital, and the place name always gets one.
Can you capitalize: "i read the novel frankenstein"?
I read the novel "Frankenstein". The "I" is always a capital, and the name of the book - which in this case is also the name of a character, hence a proper noun twice over - has a capital letter, too.
Where are the capitals in this: "i flew from berlin to majorca with my friend bella"?
I flew from Berlin to Majorca with my friend Bella. Here we have the I, two place names, and a person's name, and all need a capital letter.
What's missing here: "don't rain on my parade"?
Don't rain on my parade! While "I" is always capitalized, "my" and "me" are not.
Can you capitalize: "hush! here comes a whizz-bang"?
Hush! Here comes a whizz-bang! This is a line from a war song, describing a type of bomb called a whizz-bang. Since whizz-bang is not a brand name but just a generic term, you do not capitalize it.
Can you fix: "georgie porgie pudding and pie"?
George-Porgie, pudding and pie! This isn't some long title for Georgie. He only has a name and a nickname.
How would you rewrite: "bob's your uncle"?
Bob's your uncle! You don't need a capital letter for "uncle" unless you are referring to a specific uncle by his full title, as in, "Did you know that Uncle Bob is coming over?"
Can you capitalize: "i shall meet you in st. louis"?
I shall meet you in St. Louis. The city's name has two words in it but both get a capital letter.
What's amiss here: "that's not jane's cat"?
That's not Jane's cat! German would give the cat a capital letter, but English does not.
How would you correctly write: "as happy as larry"?
As happy as Larry! We know that Larry is happy because he got his capital letter.
What's the correct way to spell: "he was certainly a doubting thomas"?
He was certainly a Doubting Thomas! A Doubting Thomas is a type of guy who gets capital letters as it comes from a Biblical story about Thomas doubting Christ. It's like Evel Knievel, it's just part of his name now.
How would you tell someone: "my son billy is quite the smart alec, you know"?
My son Billy is quite the smart Alec, you know! A smart Alec is a more generic term than a Doubting Thomas, hence only the Alec part still gets a capital letter.
When you're surprised on paper, how would you spell: "great scott!"?
Great Scott! Some sentences are all capitalized without being a title. That's just how it is!
How would you tell someone: "don't be such a debbie downer"?
Don't be such a Debbie Downer. This term for a depressing person has been around since the 1970's, though recently, Debbie Downer became a character on Saturday Night Live.
How should you spell: "the rain in spain stays mainly in the plain"?
The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain! This is a line from "My Fair Lady" and also a good test of your capitalization skills.
How should you spell: "elementary, my dear watson"?
Elementary, my dear Watson! This line from Sherlock Holmes is actually fairly elementary to capitalize correctly!
What's the right way to say you're "keeping up with the joneses"?
Keeping up with the Joneses! Even though the Joneses are a generic couple in this instance, they still get a capital letter as they are using a name.
Do you still need a capital letter when you're saying something is "for pete's sake"?
For Pete's sake! We don't know Pete, but we respect him enough to spell his name correctly.
Where are the capitals in this saying: "thank heavens to betsy"?
Some peopel argue that "heavens" does not need to be capitalized, so this one is actually quite controversial. That means the other correct answer is "Thank heavens to Betsy".
Where do you need a second capital letter in this: "I went to matins to pray"?
I went to Matins to pray. Prayer is generic but Matins is a specific prayer that occurs at a certain time.
Which of these is the right way to say your leg has a cramp?
My leg has a Charlie horse! This is a weird saying but only the Charlie part of it gets a special capital letter.
How might you tell a friend: "i'm going to see the beatles at wembley arena"?
"I'm going to see the Beatles at Wembley Arena" is correct! Also potentially correct might be "I'm going to see The Beatles at Wembley Arena." Here, it depends whether one counts the "the" as part of the band's name.
How would you spell: "what's that got to do with the price of eggs in china"?
What's that got to do with the price of eggs in China? This slightly funny saying only needs a capital letter ad the beginning and end; one to start the sentence, one for the country of China.
How about: "it was like a bull in a china shop"?
It was like a bull in a china shop! China is a country, but china is just a generic word for place settings. A china shop is thus a common noun.
Can you capitalize: "she wore a bikini at bikini atoll"?
She wore a bikini at Bikini Atoll! The bikini was originally a brand name and thus would have had a capital letter, but now it is generic. However, "She" starts the sentence, and "Bikini Atoll" is a place.
Can you capitalize: "mr. cellophane has wrapped himself in cellophane"?
Mr. Cellophane has wrapped himself in cellophane! Mr. Cellophane is a specific person, but while cellophane used to be a specific brand, now it's a generic term for a clear plastic wrap (often not even including cellulose!).
Where are the capitals in: "i hoovered up the mess"?
I hoovered up the mess! The hoover was once a brand name, but now it means any vacuum cleaner. Thus, only the "I" needs a capital letter here.
Where do the capitals go in: "my french and polish cleaners applied some french polish to my chippendale table"?
My French and Polish cleaners applied some French polish to my Chippendale table! The cleaners are French and Polish, which are proper nouns as they pertain to France and Poland. The polish is also French, but it's polish, not Polish (it's just spelled the same). The Chippendale table also gets a capital letter for its fancy brand name.
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