Capital letters and apostrophes

Do you know how to use capital letters and apostrophes correctly?

Look at these examples to see how capital letters and apostrophes are used.

India celebrates Independence Day on 15 August.
Adam speaks English, Arabic and some Persian.
It's really cold today! They say it'll snow tonight.
Jane's staying at her parents' house this week.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Capital letters and apostrophers: Grammar test 1

Grammar explanation

Capitalisation

There are lots of times when you need to use capital letters – for example, to start a sentence or for the pronoun I. Here are some other important rules for using them.

Days, months and holidays

We capitalise days of the week, months and festivals, but not seasons.

His birthday party is on Thursday.
Schools are closed at Christmas.
It rains a lot in April and May, but the summer is very dry.

Names of people and places

We capitalise the names of people and places, including streets, planets, continents and countries.

Bea Jankowski has lived on Church Street in Manchester for 20 years.
The Earth is the third planet from the Sun.
Russia is in both Europe and Asia.

Words that come from the names of places – for example languages, nationalities and adjectives that refer to people or things from a country, region or city – are capitalised. We also capitalise nouns and adjectives that come from the names of religions.

Some Canadians speak French.
Londoners eat a lot of Indian food.
Most Muslims fast during the day for Ramadan.

Titles and names of institutions

The names of organisations and usually the important words in book and film titles are capitalised. When a person's job title goes before their name, capitalise both. If the title is separate from their name, capitalise only their name.

Salome Zourabichvili, the president of Georgia, is visiting President Alvi tomorrow.
The chief executive officer lives in New York.
We are reading
War and Peace with Ms Ioana, our teacher.

Apostrophes

We use an apostrophe to show a contraction or possession.

Contractions

We use an apostrophe to show where there are missing letters in contractions.

It's raining. (It's = It is)
Don't worry, it won't rain. (Don't = Do not; won't = will not)
She can't drive because she's broken her leg. (can't = cannot; she's = she has)
I'd like a coffee, please. (I'd = I would)
You'll be fine. (You'll = You will)

** Note that it's is a contraction of it is or it has. its is a possessive form of the pronoun it.

The dog is chasing its tail.
Are you sure it's OK for me to ring you so early?
It's rained a lot this week.

Possession

We also use an apostrophe with the letter s after a noun (normally a person, animal or group) to show that the noun owns someone or something.

My cat's favourite toy is a small, red ball.
Sadiq's parents live in Liverpool.

South Korea's economy is growing. 

Singular or plural

We use 's when the possessor is singular.

Marie's mother is going to Hong Kong.

We also use 's when the possessor is a plural noun that does not end in s.

The People's Republic of China
My cousin writes children's books.

When a plural noun ends in s, we put the apostrophe after the s (s').

This is a picture of my parents' house.
Our friend's new car is red. She just got it yesterday.
Our friends' new car is red. They just got it yesterday.

When a singular noun ends in s, we generally use 's.

James's brother-in-law is German.
He has a collection of Dickens's novels.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Capital letters and apostrophers: Grammar test 2

Language level

Intermediate: B1

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Fri, 09/07/2021 - 01:26

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Hello again, excuse me I have a lot of questions in English. Here I have some more: 1) How can I know what word in a book tittle I have to capitalize, for example: "The Land Before Time", "Gone With the Wind", "The Catcher in the Rye", "The Princess and the Frog" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kind". They are all book tittles; however, I don't understand why some prepositions are capitalized such as "Before, with" and others not such as "in, of". Could you help me with my issue, please? And also I have another question: Why the articles "a" and "the" are not capitalized in those book tittles?

Hello GiulianaAndy,

This is a question of convention rather than grammatical rule. The convention is that grammar words (articles, prepostions and conjunctions) tend not to be capitalised, but different writers/publishers may vary in terms of the style they prefer.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Thu, 08/07/2021 - 23:19

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Hello, I understand the lesson pretty well. I just have some questions that I was not able to answer on my own. Here they are: 1) Is it possible to say: "This homework was brought to you from the university" or is it correct to say: "This homework was brought to you by the university"? 2) What is the difference between "I'm in my bedroom" and "I'm inside my bedroom"? and How can I know which one should I use for each context, please? 3) Is it possible to say: "I can speak somewhat of English"? 4) Is it possible to say "what are the staff attitudes with her" or is it correct to say: "What are the staff attitudes towards her"? If both are correct, could you explain me how can I use them in different situations please? 5) Which one of these sentences are correct: "Let her work here" or "Let her to work here"? 6) I've seen this phrase in English: "Go do great things" and I would like to know what is the difference between that one and this one: "Go to do great things", please? Well, those were all my questions. I hope you have some time to reply me please

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 19/04/2021 - 21:48

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Hello Team. Is the following sentence correct? If so, I think it means that Mr Ali and Miss Ola are partners in more than one office. Is that right? - Mr Ali and Miss Ola's offices are being painted at the moment. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The sentence is ambiguous. It could mean that they share a set of offices, or it could mean that they have different offices.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter. So I understand that the sentence is correct but ambiguous, right? Thank you.

Submitted by My Linh on Tue, 13/04/2021 - 00:57

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I was born on 9 January and I live in Viet Nam. My city is really beautiful and modern with a lot of speacial places or good you. If you have a chance to travel abrouiet Nam. My city is really beautiful and modern with a lot of speacial places or good you. If you have a chance to travel abroad, it will be a wonderful place you can explore.

Submitted by wasan0909 on Sat, 27/03/2021 - 16:13

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well, it was late and I did not want to wake up in Saudi, where the summer is very hot, camels they have been to America, Ireland, and the south coast yes, I would like some more please we do not need a taxi, I suggest she side: "all woman are powerful" it was taken from the book 'Oliver Twist' if you ever miss me, do not hesitate to call me the trip was nice, there was a lot of trees

Submitted by HEMAM on Sun, 17/01/2021 - 10:20

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Hello In the first test Adila is staying at her ___ house while they are on holiday. why parents' and not parent's It's a collective noun and we use apostrophe before the letter -s or not.!!

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 17/01/2021 - 14:22

In reply to by HEMAM

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Hello Hemam,

'parent' is not a collective noun -- it refers to just one person.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nabi on Mon, 11/01/2021 - 18:29

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Hello sir Here the weeks don't show any possession than why we use (')? Thanks

Hello Nabi,

We think of the work belonging to the day, I suppose. It is a rather odd use when you think about it but it's quite common:

Two weeks' work

A hundred dollars' worth

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by soniariverofdez on Mon, 28/12/2020 - 16:54

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Why "Holi" (holiday?) is with Capital in the Grammar test 1 ?

Hello soniariverofdez,

'Holi' is the name of a holiday of Indian origin. The names of holidays are capitalised.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Via on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 01:33

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Hello, I'd like to ask the different between it's and its, I still don't get it. (Please correct me if I made any grammer errors in this comment). Thank you.

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 08:13

In reply to by Via

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Hello Via,

'it's' is a different way of saying or writing 'it is'. Notice that 'it' is a subject and 'is' is a verb.

'its' is a possessive form that describes a noun. In 'The dog is chasing its tail', 'its' shows that the tail belongs to the dog. 'its' describes the noun.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 12/10/2020 - 10:21

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Hello. Please. Which one is correct? Why? 1- I have three weeks' holiday a year. 2- I have three weeks holiday a year. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The correct form is with the apostrophe: three weeks' holiday.

 

I noticed you posted the same question (or very similar) twice. Please remember to post questions only once. We answer as quickly as we can and multiple posts only slow the process down.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Fahima mahjabin on Wed, 07/10/2020 - 14:47

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Please clarify my confusion regarding this sentence.. What's more, the crows' responses didn't simply correspond with the brightness and ..... My confusion is "Crows' "Showing plural so why used "the" and if it is plural then why used " responses" Thanks in advance

Hello Fahima mahjabin,

It's fine to use 'the' with plural nouns. 'The' tells us that we know which group of crows (plural) we are talking about. It is not a random group, but a group that has already been identified.

'Responses' here is a noun, not a verb. You can see that the word 'crows' before it has an apostrophe, so the meaning is 'the responses of the crows', and that is the subject of the verb '(didn't) correspond'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mardou on Tue, 06/10/2020 - 02:56

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Good evening, What are the differences between at/in when referring to places?

Hi Mardou,

Yes, these prepositions have similar uses! 

 

In gives a sense that the place is a three-dimensional space (similar to inside). Something is fully enclosed in the space.

  • The pencil's in the pencil case.
  • I'm in room 301.
  • He's in bed.

 

At doesn't have this three-dimensional meaning. It just shows where something is located, when there's no particular need to emphasise that it is inside or enclosed in something. It's often used to describe locations on journeys. You can imagine it as a point on a (two-dimensional) map. 

  • I'm at school at the moment.
  • The car stopped at the traffic lights.
  • The train stops at Liverpool and Manchester.

 

There are many places that we can imagine both ways - with both in and at. In these cases, use in to give a stronger sense of being inside or enclosed.

  • I'm at the station. (shows my general location)
  • I'm in the station. (emphasises that I'm somewhere inside the station, not on the outside)

 

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emmanuelniyomugabo12 on Thu, 24/09/2020 - 23:57

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Thanks for the lesson

Submitted by Dastenova Firuza on Sun, 12/07/2020 - 16:16

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While doing test I was confused a bit, but looking at grammar explanations I got my self-confidence and the results were excellent.

Submitted by Catarinagds on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 15:03

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Hi, I would like to know whether writing " the City of Espoo" and city being capitalize is grammatically correct? Thanks in advance.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 20/05/2020 - 07:41

In reply to by Catarinagds

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Hi Catarinagds,

We don't capitalise city in phrases like this.

The exception is in the phrase the City of London, but that refers to a particular district in London, not the city itself.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Thu, 14/05/2020 - 11:18

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Hello Sir Re: commas I have the difficulty to understand when we use a 'comma' and when not. Please help in this matter. e.g. I love cake, but I hate chocolate. Lee can sing , and he can dance. Hello Sir Re: commas I ran fast, but missed the train. Our hoard is little, but our hearts are great. God made the country and man made the town. The first two have commas, but the third has no comma. Please let me why it is so. Thank you. Regards Lal Although I use commas, when using 'and/ but' I don't know the reason Please help me in this matter. Thank you. Regards Lal

Hello Lal

I'm afraid we don't provide instruction on punctuation. I'd recommend you do an internet search for 'learn punctuation in English' or something similar -- there are loads of free resources out there.

Good luck!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by raj.kumar123 on Fri, 08/05/2020 - 10:21

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Dear teacher, Hello. When we use the semicolon to join three sentences, shall we use 'semicolon' plus 'and' before the third sentence? For example, "I played football; I visited the temple; and I slept." Thanks, Raj

Hello Raj

That is an issue of style, which means that you can get different answers from different people. But in general I would recommend using only one semi-colon per sentence. Occasionally people use multiple semi-colons when there is a list with complex items, but the sentence you provide is not an example of this.

You can learn a bit more about this on this grammarly page.

By the way, I noticed that you posted this same comment on three different pages. We ask that our users post their comments only once. Duplicate posts make the site more difficult to use for other users; keeping track of them takes us more time, which makes it more difficult for us to do our job. Please do not do this again.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

 

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