The Lazy Man’s Rules of Capitalization
I don’t get using 5 steps when 2 will get me the result I want. I want every system I touch to produce a perfect result, have just one step, and make sure that step doesn’t involve me! Of course, lazy can mean creative and smart too. For example, I always take my keys out of the car when I am stopped at a gas station. I only need the car stolen one time in my life for it to mean a lot more work for me. A lazy person wouldn’t dare leave keys in the car 😉
But, it’s the same with capitalization rules (and comma rules…like 31 or more they tell me!). We suffer from OVERCOMPLEXIFICATION. We are making things just too hard because we are not bringing things down to their simple components. As Einstein is referenced,
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Of course, if it is simpler than possible, then it’s just wrong. Nonetheless, capitalization rules can run the same path. For example Your Dictionary gives a good list of the rules (http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/capitalization/10-rules-of-capitalization.html):
1. Names of people
2. Names of mountains, mountain ranges, hills, and volcanoes
3. Names of bodies of water (rivers, lakes, oceans, seas, streams, and creeks)
4. Names of buildings, monuments, bridges and tunnels
5. Street names
6. Schools, colleges, and universities
7. Political divisions (continents, regions, countries, states, counties, cities, and towns)
8. Titles of books, movies, magazines, newspapers, articles, songs, plays, and works of art
9. The first letter in a sentence
10. The pronoun I
However, it frankly adds a burden to the mind to list this tedium, especially if it simply isn’t necessary. Here are the basic rules I offer young children. Don’t these cover almost every situation?:
1– Use a capitalized word at the beginning of every sentence (notice, they are mostly after a period).
2– Use a capitalized word for every proper noun (something that has a special name… Fred vs. a man…Prius vs. car…Mt. Everest vs. the mountain).
3– Use a capitalized word when using the personal pronoun “I” for oneself.
4– [Optional] Use a capitalized word stylistically for emphasis (when you want to bring attention to something in a special way). “Mom, please get me a Big Bag of potato chips.” [this could also be BIG BAG…]. Or, my use of OVERCOMPLEXIFICATION above.
Well, that’s it. No need to teach mountains, rivers, streets, or days of the week…all those are ‘proper/special’ nouns (names). Students don’t need much more for the sake of good writing.
Off to learn,
Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
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