Capitalization

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  • #755

    jca
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    In my reading I have seen some words that are capitalized sometimes and not others. For example, I have seen congress written both with and without a capital C. I was taught that proper nouns are capitalized, like English and French. So is it French fries, French Fries, or french fries?

  • #780

    WriteWell Bros.
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    Hello! Welcome to our forum!

    Capitalization can be tricky for some words. Proper nouns, such as the names of people and places, are almost always capitalized.

    For congress, whether or not the word is capitalized changes the word’s meaning. Uncapitalized, the word means any political body or other group that votes. Congress, with a capital, means a particular government. Usually, this is used to refer to the United States Congress.

    Also, nationalities (such as English, Spanish, French, etc.) are almost always capitalized. There are some exceptions when they are used to describe food. For example, you could eat an Alaskan crab, and would capitalize “Alaskan” because the crab was actually caught there. However, locations are often attached to food that do not really describe where the food came from, but a certain style or historical link. When there is not a direct link, whether or not to capitalize is more complicated.

    Several common food phrases in English, including french friesswiss cheese, and others, are often left uncapitalized, since these foods are not actually from France, Switzerland, etc. However, there are differing opinions between different style guides and other English language authorities. According to some, all proper nouns such as these should be capitalized, even when used to describe foods in this way.

    So, both French fries and french fries are acceptable. Either should be understood in everyday or academic writing. Which is better is a matter of what style guide you use and personal preference. Most importantly, be consistent with whichever option you choose; also, you should never capitalize fries.

    I hope that answers your question! If you have any other questions let me know.

    –Charlie

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