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French Capitalization - La Capitalisation

Differences between capitalization in French and English

French and English capitalization are quite different, as it is much less common in French. Many words that must be capitalized in English cannot be in French, so read through this lesson to make sure that you're not over-capitalizing your French. Also, find an answer to the debate about whether French capital letters can/should/must be accented.

Words that are capitalized in English but not in French:
1.  First person singular subject pronoun (lesson), unless it's at the beginning of the sentence.
He said, "I love you." Il a dit « je t'aime ».
  Je suis prêt. I'm ready.
2.  Days of the week, months of the year (lesson)
Monday, Tuesday... lundi, mardi...
January, February... janvier, février...
3.  Geographical words
Molière Street rue Molière
Victor Hugo Ave. av. Victor Hugo
Pacific Ocean l'océan Pacifique
Mediterranean Sea la mer Méditerranée
Mont Blanc le mont Blanc
4.  Languages (list of languages)
French, English, Russian le français, l'anglais, le russe
5.  Nationalities (list of nationalities)
French adjectives that refer to nationalities are not capitalized, but proper nouns are.
I'm American. Je suis américain.
He bought a French flag. Il a acheté un drapeau français.
She married a Spaniard. Elle s'est mariée avec un Espagnol.
I saw an Australian. J'ai vu un Australien.
6.  Religions
The names of most religions, their adjectives, and their adherents (proper nouns) are not capitalized in French.
Religion Adjective Proper Noun
Christianity le christianisme Christian  chrétien Christian un chrétien
Judaism le judaïsme Jewish juif Jew un juif
Hinduism le hindouisme Hindu hindou Hindu *
Buddhism le bouddhisme Buddhist bouddhiste Buddhist *
Islam * Muslim musulman Muslim un musulman
*Exceptions  a Hindu - un Hindou
a Buddhist - un Bouddhiste
Islam - l'Islam

The differences between French and English capitalization don't end there:
1. Introduction to French Capitalization
2. Variable Capitalization
3. Accented Capitals
4. Capitalization of Titles
Writing lessons     Typing French accents

Languages + Nationalities     French Grammar


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