Capitalization Exercise (423)

All but one of these sentences include a word or phrase that is incorrectly capitalized; the usage in one sentence is correct. Identify the sentences with capitalization errors.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: My uncle john is a former public information officer.
Correct : My uncle John is a former public information officer.

Words such as "Uncle" that describe familial relationships are not capitalized if they are preceded by a pronoun (the capitalization in "I greeted Uncle John" is correct), personal names are capitalized (though some publications honor the decision of certain well-known artists who choose not to capitalize their first and last names), and job titles are capitalized only when they immediately precede the name of the person who holds the title.

2.
Original: The recommendation was submitted to the federal trade commission, but the commission did not accept it.
Correct : The recommendation was submitted to the Federal Trade Commission, but the commission did not accept it.

Names of government entities are capitalized, but when an entity is referred to generically with one or more words from the official name, as with the second reference to "commission" here, lowercase the term.

3.
Original: Spurred on by the need to replenish their supply of water, the captain sent a small scouting party to the west to search for a spring.
Correct : Spurred on by the need to replenish their supply of water, the captain sent a small scouting party to the west to search for a spring.

This sentence was originally correct. Military ranks are capitalized only immediately before personal names, and compass directions are not capitalized. (However, references to the North or the South in content about the American Civil War or to the West or the East in regard to international culture are capitalized.)

4.
Original: She was diagnosed with alzheimer’s disease last fall.
Correct : She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last fall.

Personal names are generally capitalized (but see the note for item 1, above), including in names of medical conditions, but the noun in such terms (such as "disease," here) is not, and names of seasons are not capitalized.

5.
Original: I read about the milky way galaxy in my brother’s science textbook.
Correct : I read about the Milky Way galaxy in my brother’s science textbook.

Names of astronomical bodies and groups of bodies are capitalized, but the identifying noun itself (in this case, "galaxy") is not; names of academic disciplines are not capitalized (unless, for example the word is part of the name of a department, as in "Department of Physical Science").

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