Capitalization

French capitalization
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Les majuscules

The use of capital letters (les majuscules) is much less common in French than in English. Take a look at this summary of words that are capitalized in English but not in French.*

I. Calendar Words

Days of the week and months of the year are not capitalized in French.

Par exemple…

Nous allons partir lundi.   We’re going to leave on Monday.
Le cours a commencé en septembre.   The class started in September.

II. Geographical Names

Geographical words used with proper names are not capitalized in French.

Il habite 3, rue Gambetta.   He lives at 3 Gambetta Street.
Je veux me baigner dans l’océan Atlantique.   I want to swim in the Atlantic Ocean.

III. Languages

In French, languages are never capitalized.**

Elle parle français, espagnol et grec.   She speaks French, Spanish, and Greek.
La grammaire arabe est impossible !   Arabic grammar is impossible!

** See variable capitalization for the corresponding nationalities.

IV. Religions

Whether used as nouns or adjectives, most words related to the names of religions are not capitalized in French (exceptions in bold).

le bouddhisme   Buddhism
un Bouddhiste une Bouddhiste   a Buddhist
un temple bouddhiste   Buddhist temple
     
le christianisme   Christianity
un chrétien une chrétienne   a Christian
une église chrétienne   Christian church
     
le hindouisme   Hinduism
un Hindou une Hindoue   a Hindu
un temple hindou   Hindu temple
     
l’Islam   Islam
un musulman une musulmane   a Muslim
une mosquée musulmane   Muslim mosque
     
le judaïsme   Judaism
un juif une juive   a Jew
un temple juif   Jewish temple

V. Subject Pronoun je / I

The first person singular subject pronoun is always capitalized in English. Not so in French.

Non, je n’ai pas d’argent.   No, I don’t have any money.
Je sais que je peux le faire.   I know I can do it.

 * Of course, when any of these words is at the beginning of a sentence, it is capitalized.

Page 2: Variable capitalization

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French capitalization
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