Proper Nouns

Proper nouns may be proper, but they aren't prim. These bad boys name specific people, places, or things—and they're always capitalized.

Quick examples:
- names (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
- cities (San Francisco)
- states (North Dakota)
- countries (Gabon)
- brand names (Doritos)
- companies (Shmoop)
- days of the week (Friday)
- months (April)

 

Examples

"Jamie will visit Walt Disney World in February."

Check it out: Jamie is a name, Walt Disney World is a place, and February is a month. These are all capitalized because they are specific, proper nouns.

"Martin has eaten a Big Mac at every McDonald's in Illinois."

Martin is the name of a specific beef-loving man, Big Mac is a specific type of hamburger, McDonald's is a specific restaurant, and Illinois is a specific state.

"Every Saturday night, we order a pizza from Domino's and watch a Brad Pitt double feature."

Saturday is a day of the week, Domino's is a brand name, and Brad Pitt is a person. A very, very handsome person.

 

Common mistakes

Depends.

You should capitalize words like mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa when they're used in place of someone's name (thus making them proper nouns). Like: "Yo, Dad, toss me the car keys." (Sure, that language won't get you anywhere, but the capitalization is fantastic.)

Don't capitalize them when there's a possessive adjective in front of them: "My dad cries every time he hears a Joni Mitchell song. My mom hates it."

Examples:

"Did you ask your grandpa to make one of his legendary rhubarb pies for Thanksgiving?"

"Can somebody wake up Grandpa? His snoring is driving me crazy."

Since grandpa is replacing the grandpa's name (you wouldn't say "Did you ask your George," would you?), it doesn't need to be capitalized. In the second sentence, though, Grandpa is used in place of what your grandfather's name actually is. To you, his name isn't Mortimer: it's Grandpa.

 

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