Capitalizing, or knowing when to use capital letters, is crucial for having effective and precise Spanish writing. As a result, in this quick guide, you’ll learn the rules you must follow to capitalize words in Spanish. Here is an overview of what we’ll cover:
- Capitalization Rules
- Bonus: Vocabulary Related to Capitalization Rules
- Downloadable PDF
Take Note: The rules you’re about to learn are applied in all writing environments, such as when you write letters or emails, sentences, texts, and essays.
Capitalization Rules in Spanish: When to Use Uppercase?
Similar to other languages, in Spanish, you must capitalize the first letter of the word that starts a new sentence:
Ella se llama Lorena.
Her name is Lorena.
Los lunes no abrimos.
We’re closed on Mondays.
On top of this rule, there’s certain Spanish vocabulary that should always be capitalized.
Words that are capitalized
Spanish capitalization establishes that the first letter of the following words should always be capitalized even if that term shows up in the middle of the sentence:
1. Proper nouns such as countries, states, cities, streets, and people’s names. Here are some examples:
- Avenida Patria
- El Paso
Take Note: With proper nouns formed by two words (El Paso, Estados Unidos), the first letter of each word should be uppercase. Also, since accent marks are a crucial part of our pronunciation and spelling, they must not be omitted when writing in capital letters.
2. Holidays: In Spanish, the first letter of a Holiday’s name should be capitalized. For instance:
- Año Nuevo
- Día de la Madre
Take Note: Holidays means ‘vacaciones’, ‘día feriado’, or ‘fiestas’ in Spanish. However, in our language, these words are always written in lowercase letters.
3. Movies and book titles: In Spanish, the first letter of a movie or book title must be capitalized. This capitalization rule is also applied to paintings, sculptures, or other works of art.
- El laberinto del fauno
- Cien años de soledad
- Las cuatro estaciones de Vivaldi
4. Corporate and nobility titles: Write these types of nouns in capital letters only in formal environments.
5. Acronyms: In written Spanish, each letter in acronym must be capitalized.
Take Note: Signs displaying a command or items for sale can be capitalized to catch people’s attention. Examples of these include “ALTO” and “SE VENDE”.
Here are some examples of how to use these words in the middle of a sentence:
El carro es de Ángel.
The car is Ángel’s.
Vamos a pasar Año Nuevo en España.
We’re going to spend New Year’s in Spain.
Words that are not capitalized in Spanish
The following types of words are never capitalized unless they are used to start a sentence:
- Subject pronouns (yo, tú, él, ella…)
- Months (enero, febrero, marzo…)
- Seasons (primavera, invierno…)
- Days of the week (lunes, martes, miércoles)
- Languages and nationalities (mexicano, español, inglés…)
Check these examples:
Regina habla español e inglés.
Regina speaks English and Spanish.
La tienda no abre los lunes.
The store doesn’t open on Mondays.
Tu cumpleaños es en noviembre.
Your birthday is in November.
Celia y yo fuimos al cine.
Celia and I went to the movies.
Take Note: Even though English capitalization requires you to capitalize most of these words, in Spanish, the previous words are written in lowercase unless they start the sentence. Days of the week are an example of this. Since definite articles usually precede them, there are very few occasions when these Spanish words are capitalized.
Yo vivo en México.
I live in Mexico.
Noviembre es mi mes favorito.
November is my favorite month.
Mi cumpleaños es en abril.
My birthday is in April.
Bonus: Vocabulary Related to Capitalization Rules in Spanish
Here is a set of words that you can use to talk about capitalization rules in Spanish:
- Escribirse en mayúscula – Capitalize
- Mayúscula – Capital letter
- Minúscula – Lower case letter
- Ir en mayúsculas (informal) – Capitalize
- Uso de mayúsculas – Capitalization rules
Los meses no se escriben en mayúsculas.
The months in Spanish are not capitalized.
“Español” no va en mayúsculas.
Spanish is not capitalized.
Download the Spanish Capitalization PDF Cheat Sheet
Learning the rules for capitalizing certain words and not others can be tricky in a second language like Spanish. So, in this PDF you’ll find all the rules, graphics and examples you need to know about capitalizing terms in the Spanish language.