There’s a Greek proverb that says, “It is not summer until the crickets sing.”
But then again, a poet called Curtis Jackson once said, “Summer starts her demise, having sung her songs. Winter is restless, but Autumn stares back and keeps her calm.”
Both sentences contain seasons; however, the latter capitalized its seasons. Why is this so?
Do you or do you not capitalize seasons? Yes and no; sometimes you do, and sometimes you don’t.
There are principles that govern the capitalization of seasons; I have explained them and given examples in this post.
Let’s get started.
Do You Capitalize Seasons?
Unless they are proper nouns or part of one, the seasons are not capitalized. To understand this, let us define and differentiate between proper nouns and common nouns.
In English grammar, a proper noun is a noun that refers to a specific person, place, or thing and is always written with a capital letter. Proper nouns are specific names for people, places, and organizations. For example:
- New York
- The Pacific Ocean
A common noun refers to a general person, place, or thing. These nouns are not capitalized unless they appear at the start of a sentence. The words below are examples of common nouns:
Proper nouns and common nouns serve different functions; the specificity of proper nouns is why they are capitalized.
- Edward is a person. (Proper noun)
- Mervis is a model. (Common noun)
- The United States is a country. (Proper noun)
- The government is responsible for the well-being of its citizens. (Common noun)
Looking at the explanations, it is understandable why “summer,” which simply refers to the warmest season of the year, is not capitalized, but we capitalize summer in “Summer Olympics” because it is part of the proper noun “Summer Olympics.” Similarly, “autumn” as a normal season is not capitalized, but “Autumn in New York” as the title of an event in New York is because “autumn” is being used as a proper noun in this context.
It is important to note that capitalization rules can vary depending on the style guide being used. Checking the rules for the particular style you are using is always a good idea because some style guides might advise capitalizing seasons in particular contexts.
When Do You Capitalize Seasons?
Here are a few situations that may require you to capitalize seasons:
Capitalize When a Season Is Part of a Proper Noun
When a season is used as part of a proper noun, it should be capitalized to show that it is a specific, named entity.
For example, if you are writing a sentence like “I spent my vacation in the Bahamas, but the Caribbean Winter was nothing like I expected,” you would capitalize “Winter” because it is part of the proper noun “Caribbean Winter.”
- “Summer Olympics”
- “Autumn Festival”
- “Spring Break.”
- “Winter Wonderland”
- “Fall Fashion Week”
Capitalize When a Season Is Being Used as a Title
You must capitalize seasons when they are being used as a title, as they are also functioning as proper nouns in this context. For example, if you are writing a title like “The Wonders of Spring,” you would capitalize “Spring” because it is part of the title.
- “The Four Seasons” (a classical music composition)
- “The Winter’s Tale” (a play by William Shakespeare)
- “The Wonders of Spring.” (Book by Speedy Kids)
- “The Joys of Summer” (song by James Keane)
- “The Magic of Winter” (album by The Wizards of Winter)
This is why seasons are or should always be capitalized in movie titles, poem titles, song titles, event names, etc.
Capitalize Seasons If They Are Being Personified
When seasons are personified, it is advisable to capitalize them because they have become proper nouns.
- “With her blooming flowers and chirping birds, Spring breathed new life into the world.”
- “Summer is sizzling hot and bright. She brings joy to us every year.”
- “Winter snows and chills, blanketing the world in white, sucking the warmth out of our breaths.”
In the second example, I capitalized “Summer” for two reasons: firstly, I capitalized it because I used it as a live entity with its own characteristics and actions, and secondly, because of the general rule below.
Capitalize Seasons When Starting a Sentence
Capitalize seasons when they start a sentence or question. In English, the general rule is that the first word of a sentence or question is always capitalized, regardless of what the word is.
- “Spring is my favorite season because of the beautiful flowers and warm weather.”
- “Summer is coming, what do you like most about it?”
- “Fall is my favorite season.”
- “Winter is cold and I don’t enjoy that part of it, but I love snow”
As a general rule, you should capitalize seasons only when they are being used as proper nouns. You should not capitalize the names of seasons when they are being used as common nouns—when they are being used just to describe the weather or a particular time of the year.
However, I should also add that the rules governing the queen’s language are so many that you keep finding new ones now and again.
The crazy thing is that these rules change from region to region and style manual to style manual. That is why I said that it is always a good idea to check the specific guidelines for the style you are using to make sure you are using capitalization correctly.