Punctuation Quiz #24: Capitalization

By Mark Nichol - 2 minute read

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Correct the capitalization in the following sentences.

1. Harry Selfridge was a Self-Made Man who left school at 14 and lived to amass an enormous Fortune in london.

2. At the age of 20, Selfridge went to work at Marshall Field and company in Chicago where he rose from Stock Boy to Junior Partner.

3. “The Customer is always right” is a marketing Motto Selfridge is often credited with inventing.

4. After 25 years at Field’s, Selfridge went to London where he founded the famous store in Oxford street that still bears his Name.

5. The Store prospered well during world war I and up to the great depression, but Harry’s fortunes declined after the mid-1930s.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: Harry Selfridge was a Self-Made Man who left school at 14 and lived to amass an enormous Fortune in london.
Correct : Harry Selfridge was a self-made man who left school at 14 and lived to amass an enormous fortune in London.

The words “self-made man” and “fortune” are not capitalized because they are common nouns; “London,” like all city names, is a proper noun and therefore capitalized.

2.
Original: At the age of 20, Selfridge went to work at Marshall Field and company in Chicago where he rose from Stock Boy to Junior Partner.
Correct : At the age of 20, Selfridge went to work at Marshall Field and Company in Chicago where he rose from stock boy to junior partner.

“Company” is part of the store name and therefore capitalized. The nouns “stock boy” and “junior partner” are common nouns.

3.
Original: “The Customer is always right” is a marketing Motto Selfridge is often credited with inventing.
Correct : “The customer is always right” is a marketing motto Selfridge is often credited with inventing.

Both “customer” and “motto” are common nouns, therefore not capitalized.

4.
Original: After 25 years at Field’s, Selfridge went to London where he founded the famous store in Oxford street that still bears his Name.
Correct : After 25 years at Field’s, Selfridge went to London where he founded the famous store in Oxford Street that still bears his name.

As part of the name “Oxford Street,” the word street is capitalized. When not the name of a specific street, the word is not capitalized: “I’ll meet you in the next street.”

5.
Original: The Store prospered well during world war I and up to the great depression, but Harry’s fortunes declined after the mid-1930s.
Correct : The store prospered well during World War I and up to the Great Depression, but Harry’s fortunes declined after the mid-1930s.

The word “store” is a common noun. The names of wars are capitalized, as are the names of major historical periods like the Great Depression.

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2 Responses to “Punctuation Quiz #24: Capitalization”

  • D.A.W.

    What a conflagration of capitalization! Surely you have done this on purpose just to make it outrageous!
    That writing also reminds me of the situation of the 1780s, when such things as personifications were capitalized:
    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
    In modern English, there is absolutely no reason to capitalize such words as {Justice, Tranquility, Welfare, Blessings, Liberty}.
    The same thing goes for the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.

  • venqax

    Actually, I find this very timely. Of all the writing I get from students and other people today, by far the most common “form” (as opposed to content) problem I get is what I call random capitalization. I do mean random. As in capitalizing and not-capitalizing the same word in a single sentence and in the same context. It didn’t used to be this bad. It’s as if schools just stopped teaching rules of capitalization altogether several years ago, and it’s just hitting my desk now. Even after I explain the problem, many don’t get it, and I am not just referring to people with poor writing skills overall. Is it like cursive writing (or so I’ve heard), something schools simply don’t teach anymore?

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