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use of capital letter

Discussion in 'English' started by busterhall, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. This is a question for an English teacher, or anyone one else interested in the correct use of language. Is it correct to use a capital letter in the middle of a sentence for the word 'department' or the name of a specialist such as 'physicist'? I also thought that subjects should not have a capital letter unless at the beginning of a sentence. I have looked at several adverts in the TES which use capital letters where I did not think they should be used. i am not an expert but i was just wondering :)
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Capital letters are generally only used for proper nouns, so physicist applies to 'all/any person studying/working in physics' therefore does not need a capital. But the physicist Albert Einstein ( the name of a particular physicist = capital letter).
    Similarly when the generic term is an essential part of the name e g Tubby Bear or Rupert Bear they <u>will</u> need capitals.
    So with your example
    English Department, Science Department etc. are all names of subject departments within a school and need a capital letter when directly referring to the name of a particular department.
  3. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    "Capital letters are generally only used for proper nouns".
    You could say that it's the other way round. We consider words proper nouns when they are always spelled with a capital. E.g. "Wednesday" is a proper noun in English (the equivalent in French is not.)
  4. Thank you. It is worrying that a job description for a teaching post is full of errors and these are made frequently in the TES.
  5. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Point taken markuss!
  6. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    Regarding school subjects: I still like to spell them all with capitals but I know I'm old fashioned.
    I like to mark the difference between "I got grade A in History of England" and "I know the history of England". Or "I got good marks in Geography" and "I'm good at the geography of my local area."
    But - yes - I'm out of date, of course. Nowadays, the powers that be call school subjects "geography" and "history" ***** nilly. Shame, really.
  7. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    In fact, of course, there's a general tendency to do away with capital initial letters. If it carries on, there'll be no proper nouns in English at all.
  8. Just to defend the TES for a minute, all publications have their own 'house style' which may or may not ascribe to accepted grammatical norms or what is generally regarded as correct.
  9. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    I can't see how anyone could think there was anything at all wrong with "Help! Somebody needed to run our Physics Department." Both of the last two words are marked as proper nouns - so what?

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