Are Seasons Capitalized?

Well, it depends.

If you’re unsure about whether to capitalize the seasons, you’re not alone. It’s a common question. As you probably already know, the days of the week always need to be capitalized in English. We use capital letters every time we write the months of the year. You might assume that the same capitalization rules extend to all four seasons—spring, summer, winter, and fall. Unfortunately, you’d be incorrect. Be sure to write the seasons of the year with lowercase letters, unless you come across one of these scenarios:

1) The season is the first word in a sentence. 

Since you always capitalize the first letter of a sentence, you shouldn’t treat the seasons any differently. Capitalize all four seasons whenever they appear at the beginning of a sentence.

Example: Fall is my favorite season.

2) You’re referring to an individual or character. 

As a general rule, the seasons are common nouns; however, you may refer to Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall as proper nouns under certain circumstances. As an example, you might know someone named Summer. If you’re writing about her, capitalize her name.

Example: He named his dog Winter.

Creative writers commonly personify the seasons. As an example, the poet John Keats used personification as a literary device in the poem “To Autumn.” In that poem, he addresses the fall season as he would a person. Let’s say you write a short story using personification, mentioning Winter’s icy stare and cold breath. In that instance, you’d be justified in capitalizing Winter.

Example: I like you, Spring, even when you bring clouds and rain.

3) The season is part of a title. 

Often, you’ll see titles with the names of the seasons capitalized. When you write about the plain old summer solstice, you use lower case letters. On the other hand, don’t be surprised to see the 2020 Summer Olympics or a Summer Solstice Sale advertised with capital letters. As soon the names of seasons appear within a title—whether it’s the title of an event, a movie, a book, or a promotion—they’re written with capital letters.

Example: Lake Placid, New York hosted the 1934 Winter Olympics.

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Why don’t we capitalize the seasons?

When we write the name of a season, we’re using the word as a generic common noun. That’s true even in cases where we’re being specific, like winter solstice. In the English language, we also don’t capitalize other common nouns like daytime, weekend, or morning. In contrast, if you’re talking about the day of the week, you’d use a proper noun.

There’s only one way to say Monday. We only have one official name for the month of December. Because these words are one-of-a-kind, they’re proper nouns. Even though both weekday and Monday refer to specific periods of time, only the word Monday is one-of-a-kind. Weekday is common because it can be traded out for workday or business day. For seasons, you have many words to choose from: harvest, autumn, fall, holiday, winter, and more. That’s why we consider the seasons common nouns! 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/are-seasons-capitalized/
  2. https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/39448/are-particular-seasons-proper-nouns
  3. https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/capitalization/capitalization-of-seasons.html
  4. https://www.gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/nouns/proper-noun/

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