Names of people, places and organisations are called proper nouns. We spell proper nouns with a capital letter:

Mohammed Ali; Birmingham; China; Oxford University, the United Nations

We use capital letters for festivals:

Christmas; Deepawali; Easter; Ramadan; Thanksgiving

We use a capital letter for someone’s title:

I was talking to Doctor Wilson recently.
Everything depends on President Obama.

When we give the names of books, films, plays and paintings we use capital letters for the nouns, adjectives and verbs in the name:

I have been reading ‘The Old Man and the Sea’.
Beatrix Potter wrote ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’
You can see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.

Sometimes we use a person’s name to refer to something they have created:

Recently a Van Gogh was sold for fifteen million dollars.
We were listening to Mozart.
I’m reading an Agatha Christie.





''Francis' birthday'' pronounced ''Francises''
''Josh' birthday''
''Butch' birthday''
''Felix' birthday''

Does the exception of pronouncing names apply only to names ending with an ''s'' (written Francis' but pronounced Francises''?
I thought that it applied to all the endings, which have ''sh, ch, and x''. And should ''s'' be with the rest of the names (Josh's or Josh'...)?

Thank you.

Hello JamlMakav,

The pronunciation here depends not upon the last letter of the word but upon the last sound. When a word ends in one of several sounds then the plural and possessive are pronounced /ɪz/

These sounds are:

/d/, /ʧ/, /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /s/, /z/, /ʤ/


These include, for example, words which end in 'x' as this is generally pronounced /ks/.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much, sir, but I don't understand what the ''d'' sound has to do with this. We don't say, for example, ''dad's'' ''dades'' , instead we say ''dads''.

Thank you.

Hello JamlMakav,

My apologies. The 's after the /d/ sound is pronounced /z/ not /ɪz/.


The full list is:

after /b/, /d/, /v/ the 's is pronounced /z/

after /ʧ/, /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /s/, /z/, /ʤ/ the 's is pronounced /ɪz/


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Is there a rule for making nouns that refer to a person from a particular city? For example,
I have noticed that there are two endings a London(er) and a Californ(ian). I'm asking because there are so many cities out there and it would be rather strange if we didn't have a rule for this.

Thank you in advance.

Hello MCWSL,

Good for you! Those two endings are certainly the most common endings for demonyms and it's great you've figured this out. As far as I know, however, there is no rule that will explain every instance of every demonym. Some words are slightly irregular (e.g. 'Mancunian', 'Glaswegian') and others are completely irregular (e.g. 'Scouse'), I'm afraid. There's a list in the Wikipedia that you can refer to and have fun with if you like.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

two child and two adult tickets
Is "two child and two adult" a compound adjective?

two adult tickets and two child tickets
Are "adult ticket" and "child ticket" compound nouns?

I do not understand why there 'two child' or 'two adult' are not hyphenated?

Many thanks
Look forward to hearing from you

Hello libero,

If I've understood the phrase correctly, 'two child and two adult' is not a compound adjective. The way I understand the phrase is 'two child [tickets] and two adult tickets' (the first word 'tickets' is left out via ellipsis).

'adult ticket' and 'child ticket' are indeed compound nouns. Some compound nouns are hyphenated and others are not. It's mostly a question a useage, i.e. I'm afraid there are no consistent rules for explaining why.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


''I'm interested in applying an application for a/an Computer Science degree''

Should ''Computer Science'' be followed by determiner(if so which?), and should ''Computer Science'' be capitalized?

What is the difference between ''what for'' and ''why''?

Why did you yell?
What did you yell for?

Thank you

Hello MCWSL,

'Computer Science degree' is a noun + noun (Computer Science + degree) construction, so the determiner would go before the first noun. In this case, you should probably use 'the' instead of 'a' if you're applying to a specific degree programme. And note that we don't say 'apply an application' - instead you can say 'complete' or 'submit' an application. It's not absolutely necessary to capitalise Computer Science, but I'd say it's better here.

'what for' can be used to mean 'why', as in the example you provided - here it means the same as 'why'. But it can also be used to talk about the purpose of something, e.g. 'What is that hammer for?'

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team