Spanish-Capitalization

Spanish Capitalization: Simple Rules and Guidelines with 50+ Examples

Are you thinking of writing something special in Spanish?

Well then, hold the capitals!

Written Spanish uses far fewer capitals than English, and has some rules that may differ from what you’re used to.

So before you start writing, read this post to learn when to use Spanish capitalization and when to leave those letters lowercase.

That way, you can avoid unnecessary mistakes and write proper Spanish with ease!

Contents

What Spanish Words to Capitalize

In Spanish, you should capitalize the first letter of the first word of every sentence, as well as all proper nouns: names of specific places, people, and things.

First Word in a Sentence

Like English, Spanish capitalizes the first word in a sentence.

Las primeras palabras son importantes. (First words are important.)

Countries

Voy a vivir en Alemania el año que viene. (I am going to live in Germany next year.)

Mi país favorito es Jamaica. (My favorite country is Jamaica.)

Cities

Mis botas nuevas son de Madrid. (My new boots are from Madrid.)

Su familia vive en Barcelona. (Her family lives in Barcelona.)

Institutions

La Universidad de Harvard es una institución prestigiosa. (Harvard University is a prestigious institution.)

El Hospital Médica Sur es uno de los mejores hospitales en México. (The Médica Sur Hospital is one of the best hospitals in Mexico.)

Other Proper Nouns

All other proper nouns should be capitalized in Spanish. Any time there’s a proper name for a specific thing, person, or place, make sure it’s capitalized.

This includes things like the names of geographic features (rivers, mountains, etc.) and manmade structures (bridges, buildings, etc.) as well as brands or branded products. It also includes the names and nicknames of people. 

Mi Tía Angela es mi tía favorite. (My Aunt Angela is my favorite aunt.)

Me gusta jugar juegos en mi Nintendo. (I like to play games on my Nintendo.) 

Visitamos el puente Golden Gate en San Francisco. (We visited the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.) 

Nosotras viajamos en canoa por el rio Amazonas. (We traveled by canoe on the Amazon River.)

Note that the type of geographic or manmade feature (river, mountain, bridge, etc.) is not capitalized like it is in English.

The more you read, the better you’ll understand Spanish capitalization rules. You can also see examples of capitalization in the subtitles on FluentU, where dual language subtitles and learning tools help you study the language.

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What Spanish Words Not to Capitalize

These words are not capitalized in Spanish writing unless they appear as the first word in a sentence. Remember, the first word of any sentence—in English or in Spanish—is capitalized.

Note that some words use el (the, masculine), la (the, feminine), los (the, plural masculine) and las (the, plural feminine). When those words are used at the beginning of a sentence, el, la, los or las is capitalized rather than the word itself.

For example:

El francés (French)

El catolicismo (Catholicism)

El lunes (Monday)

Months

Diciembre es cuando comienzo mi nuevo trabajo. (December is when I begin my new job.)

Mi nuevo trabajo comienza en diciembre. (My new job begins in December.)

Mayo es el mes con las flores más bonitas. (May is the month with the prettiest flowers.)

Las flores más bonitas florecen en mayo. (The prettiest flowers bloom in May.)

Days of the Week

When the name of a day of the week appears at the beginning of a sentence, el (the) or los (the) will be the capitalized word, as mentioned above. The actual day itself will not be capitalized.

El miércoles es mi día favorito de la semana. (Wednesday is my favorite day of the week.)

Mi día favorito de la semana es el miércoles. (My favorite day of the week is Wednesday.)

Los martes el mercado está abierto. (On Tuesdays the market is open.)

Compro en el mercado abierto los martes. (I shop at the open market on Tuesdays.)

Book Titles

spanish capitalization

In English, all the main words of a book title are capitalized. In Spanish, however, they are not. The first word of a book title is capitalized, and then lowercase letters are used for the rest of the words.

Leí “La guerra y la paz” el año pasado. (I read “War and Peace” last year.)

“Sé por qué canta el pájaro enjaulado” es mi libro favorito. (“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is my favorite book.)

Movie Titles

Movie titles are treated the same way as books are in Spanish writing. The first word in the title is capitalized and the following words are all lowercase.

“La bella y la bestia” siempre me hace feliz. (“Beauty and the Beast” always makes me happy.)

“La guerra de las galaxias” es una gran película. (“Star Wars” is a great movie.)

Personal Titles

Personal titles are not capitalized. Notice that when you directly address someone, la or el is not used.

Some personal titles include:

señora (Mrs.)

señor (Mr.)

señorita (Miss)

profesor(a) (professor)

doctor(a) (doctor)

El señor Fuentes es un buen hombre. (Mister Fuentes is a nice man.)

Usted es un buen hombre, señor Fuentes. (You are a good man, Mister Fuentes.)

La doctora Luisa trabaja el martes. (Doctor Luisa works on Tuesday.)

¿Trabaja el martes, doctora Luisa? (Do you work on Tuesday, Doctor Luisa?)

El profesor Pablo me hace sonreír. (Professor Pablo makes me smile.)

Me hace sonreír, profesor Pablo. (You make me smile, Professor Pablo.)

Places

As explained earlier, Spanish capitalization only includes the proper name of a place or feature but not the type of place or feature as it does in English. For example, the Nile River is written as el río Nilo, with the name Nilo (Nile) capitalized but the word río (river) in lowercase.

Fuimos a ver la torre Eiffel en París. (We went to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris.)

Nosotras estamos nadando en el océano Atlántico. (We are swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.)

Nationalities

Unlike in English, we don’t capitalize nationalities in Spanish

Yo soy colombiano(a). (I am Colombian.)

¡El café colombiano es el mejor del mundo! (Colombian coffee is the best coffee in the world!)

Religions

When the name of a religion appears at the beginning of a sentence, el (the) or la (the) will be the capitalized word, as mentioned above. The actual name of the religion itself will not be capitalized.

La mayoría de los indios asiáticos practican el hinduismo. (The majority of Asian Indians practice Hinduism.)

Fui a una hermosa iglesia católica en Madrid. (I went to a beautiful Catholic church in Madrid.)

Languages

El español es un idioma fácil de aprender. (Spanish is an easy language to learn.)

Yo hablo español con mi familia. (I speak Spanish with my family.)

El francés se enseña en las escuelas de Europa. (French is taught in schools in Europe.)

Aprendí a hablar francés cuando vivía en París. (I learned to speak French when I lived in Paris.)

Ordinal Numbers

Ordinal numbers are words like primero/a (first), segundo/a (second) and tercero/a (third). They have both masculine and feminine forms in Spanish so they agree with the nouns they describe.

In Spanish, we don’t use ordinal numbers for the date like we do in English, and we don’t capitalize them. 

Voy a trabajar el cuarto día del mes. (I go to work on the fourth day of the month.)

El primer auto es muy brillante. (The first car is very shiny.)

Personal Pronoun Yo

The personal pronoun yo (I) isn’t capitalized unless it begins a sentence. This differs from English, where the pronoun “I” is capitalized wherever it’s used.

Yo estoy feliz. (I am happy.)

Luisa y yo fuimos de compras ayer. (Luisa and I went shopping yesterday.)

 

Different languages use different writing policies and practices. Not all basic guidelines are the same, as you’ve learned above.

So, learn the Spanish rules and leave capitals at the door! You’ll enjoy writing with less fuss once you get used to this uncomplicated style of writing.

And One More Thing…

If you've made it this far that means you probably enjoy learning Spanish with engaging material and will then love FluentU.

Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.

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Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.

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