Types of Spanish Words You Shouldn’t Capitalize
Spanish capitalization rules are sometimes surprising. Not all the words that are capitalized in English should be written in uppercase letters in Spanish, and vice versa.
Learning capitalization rules is part of learning a new language.
Read this article to learn about the capitalization rules in Spanish. In the end, test your knowledge with a pop quiz!
Capitalization Rules in Spanish
Spanish capitalization is a cinch! There are fewer words that must be capitalized compared to English, and the rules are straightforward.
It’ll be easier for you to master Spanish capitalization if you watch out for differences between Spanish and English.
First, let me show you words you should capitalize in Spanish and then words you shouldn’t.
Words to Capitalize in Spanish
Of course, in Spanish, you must capitalize first and last names. Let’s see some other cases where the first uppercase letter is obligatory.
First Word in a Sentence
It might seem obvious that all modern European languages capitalize the first words in a sentence. However, 46 languages in the world do not use capital letters at all! And in European languages, lowercase letters did not appear until the Middle Ages. Before, everything was written in capital letters.
In Spanish, like in English, always capitalize the first word in a sentence.
Me gusta su collar.
I like her necklace.
Los perros de mi vecino ladran mucho.
My neighbor’s dogs bark a lot.
Religious and National Holidays
All holidays, religious or not, should be capitalized.
El Día de los Muertos es el día favorito de mi hija.
The Day of the Dead is my daughter’s favorite day.
En Nochebuena siempre cantamos villancicos.
On Christmas Eve, we always sing Christmas carols.
El Día de la Independencia siempre se celebra a lo grande.
Independence Day is always celebrated in a big way.
Countries and Cities
Countries and cities in Spanish should be capitalized as they are in English.
Barcelona no es la capital de España.
Barcelona is not the capital of Spain.
Mis tíos viven en Guadalajara.
My aunt and uncle live in Guadalajara.
Me gustaría mudarme a Caracas.
I would like to move to Caracas.
Abbreviations of the Pronouns ‘usted’ and ‘ustedes’
The abbreviations of the pronouns usted (formal singular ‘you’) and ustedes (formal plural ‘you’) should start with a capital letter. If you want to know the capitalization rules for Spanish abbreviations, read The Ultimate List of Common Spanish Abbreviations.
Escriba Ud. la carte.
Write the letter.
Hablen Uds. más lentamente.
Speak more slowly.
According to Spanish capitalization rules, you should also capitalize the names of institutions.
La Universidad Complutense es la universidad más importante de Madrid.
The Complutense University is the most important university in Madrid.
Mi padre trabaja en el Ministerio de Hacienda.
My father works at the Ministry of Finance.
For a complete list of words that need to be capitalized in Spanish, take a look at this explanation by RAE (Real Academia Española – The Royal Spanish Academy).
Words Not to Capitalize in Spanish
All the personal titles such as señor (sir), don (Mr.), and reverendo (reverend) shouldn’t start in capital letters in Spanish unless they’re abbreviated (Sr., D. Fr., Rvdo.).
Me gustaría hablar con don Mario para que me explique el team.
I would like to talk to Mr. Mario so that he can explain the issue to me.
El señor Jiménez no se encuentra disponible.
Mr. Jimenez is not available.
Spanish Capitalization of Days and Months
In Spanish, you don’t capitalize days, months, or seasons. Therefore, you should write lunes (Monday), abril (April), and verano (summer) in lowercase letters.
El lunes tengo cita con mi dentista.
I have an appointment with my dentist on Monday.
Mi cumpleaños es en abril.
My birthday is in April.
No me gusta otoño.
I don’t like autumn.
Languages in Spanish start with a lowercase letter, so be careful.
Por las tardes estudio español.
I study Spanish in the afternoons.
Hablo inglés, ruso y griego.
I speak English, Russian, and Greek.
Names of nationalities and tribes also start with lowercase letters.
Los ingleses toman mucho té.
The English drink a lot of tea.
El calendario de los mayas es impresionante.
The Mayan calendar is impressive.
Names of religions should not be capitalized in Spanish:
- catolicismo (Catholicism)
- budismo (Buddhism)
- islamismo (Islamism)
- judaísmo (Judaism)
The First Word in Geographical Names
The first words in geographical names that precede the proper name do not start with a capital letter:
La cordillera de los Andes puede ser peligrosa para los principiantes.
The Andes mountain range can be dangerous for beginners.
La ciudad de Panamá es muy bella.
Panama City is very beautiful.
Ordinal Numbers after a Name
If you need to write an ordinal number after a name, don’t capitalize it.
Luis catorce fue un rey de Francia.
Louis the Fourteenth was the king of France.
La reina Isabela segunda vive en Inglaterra.
Queen Isabella the Second lives in England.
Personal noun yo
Unlike in English, never capitalize the personal pronoun yo as you do with ‘I’.
Andrés y yo ya vimos la película.
Andres and I have already seen the movie.
Ana y yo queremos sopa.
Ana and I want soup.
Write the names of the musical notes with lowercase letters: do (C), re (D), mi (E), fa (F), sol (G), la (A), si (B).
Capitalization Rules in Spanish for Titles
Spanish capitalization rules for titles depend on the type of title.
Book and Movie Titles
In English, you capitalize all the words in a title except articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. In Spanish, you should capitalize only the first word and any proper names in book and movie titles.
Although these are the rules, you may see movie posters with all words of the title capitalized to attract the audience’s attention.
Cien años de soledad
One Hundred Years of Solitude
La guerra de las galaxies
La bella y la bestia
Beauty and the Beast
Magazines and Newspaper Titles
However, if you have to write down the title of a newspaper, magazine, or any other periodic publication, all words should start with a capital letter.
The Nation (Spanish daily newspaper)
Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica
New Journal of Hispanic Philology
As you can see, capitalization rules for titles in Spanish are easier than in English. You just need to know the type of title you need to write.
However, if you’re looking for a more general Spanish capitalization tool, try correctoronline.es, which detects any Spanish capitalization mistakes in sentences.
Spanish Capitalization Quiz
Check out how much you already know about Spanish capitalization rules.
1. Choose the correct sentence.
2. Choose the correct sentence.
3. Choose the correct sentence.
4. Choose the correct sentence.
5. Choose the correct sentence.
6. Choose the correct sentence.
7. Choose the correct sentence.
8. Choose the correct sentence.
9. Choose the correct sentence.
10. Choose the correct sentence.
Remember that being bilingual can bring unexpected benefits to your life. Did you know that, according to The Economist, you can earn much more just because you’re bilingual?
So, what are you waiting for? If you want to improve not only your Spanish capitalization but you’d like to get better in all areas of Spanish, sign up for a free trial class with one of our friendly, certified, native-speaking teachers from Guatemala.
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The answer to question three is incorrect – it should be Ciudad de Panamá – without “de” capitalized.
Thank you for pointing this out! You’re right and we’ve corrected the quiz.