As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Affiliate, DDT earns from qualifying purchases. When in doubt, check a style guide, and if you can’t find an answer, keep the word lowercase.
Another tricky area is directional terms to describe people, such as Southerner and Northerner, because style guides offer differing advice. To sum it up, if a directional term is the name of a region, capitalize it.
If you’re unsure, check a dictionary or style guide. This article was originally published January 4, 2012, and updated June 9, 2017.
Fill in a properly capitalized or lowercase directional word: There is a general rule on when to capitalize directions and regions, but it can get a little confusing when you actually put it into practice.
So, in this post, we’ll introduce the basic rule and go through a number of different examples of putting it to use. If you drive five miles north, you will find my house.
Regions Regional terms can sometimes be tricky because they are often based on the points of a compass, but they are treated differently for capitalization purposes. Regional terms, when they are generally accepted as proper names for an area, are capitalized.
The North defeated the South in the American Civil War. There can be some confusion when you are trying to figure out what exactly you are referring to in the sentence, a direction or a region.
Capitalize regional terms when they refer to a commonly accepted proper name of an area. Check out the instances when capitalizing a direction word is the grammatically correct thing to do.
For example, if you tell people that you live in “the deep South,” they would likely know that you mean the area that includes Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Georgia in the U.S. The same rule applies for specific regions when you add Bern onto the end of a direction.
This suffix makes the direction an adjective, and when it describes a specific region, it should be capitalized. The direction word makes it a proper noun.
The Southern States the Eastern Seaboard Northern Ireland the Western Hemisphere Another time to capitalize direction words is when you're describing habits, practices or activities from a specific culture.
Eastern philosophy (philosophy from the Eastern Hemisphere) Western medicine (medicine from the Western Hemisphere) Southern hospitality (hospitality from the American South) Midwestern nice (niceness from the American Midwest) In these cases, you're telling somewhere where to go or where something is located, not talking about a specific place.
Chances are, if you're only using the direction word to be more descriptive and not to talk about a specific region, you don't need to capitalize it. Describing people from a region is a situation where you need to consult your style guide.
The AP style guide, for example, requires words like Southerner and Midwesterner to be capitalized. However, the Chicago Manual of Style prefers to keep southerner and Midwesterner in lowercase.
Keep the lesson going with these special capitalization cases that can help you in your writing. Well, you should capitalize cardinal directions in cases where you use them as proper nouns.
Now note that you should capitalize all cardinal words in cases where they indicate specific or definite regions. Similarly, you are expected to capitalize cardinal directions when they constitute a member of proper names.
This is because its combination with the word coast makes it a proper noun. We believe you will find the rules governing capitalization of primary cardinal directions easy.
For instance, capitalizing words like southern and eastern attracts different rules. Precisely, there are loads of derivatives that are just as important as the primary words.
Usually, the letters “Lerner” gets added to cardinal directions to produce a new word. In such cases, you have the words Northerner, Southerner, Westerner, and Easterner.
Now, the rule is to ensure that you capitalize them where they designate individuals within a region. This is also the same where you use the word in reference to their social, cultural, or political activities.
As such, we have identified some illustrative examples to make things easier for you. Good news, our expedition this year is set for the Deep south.
Good news, our expedition this year is set for the Deep South. We hope to one day visit our maternal home in the West of France.
We hope to one day visit our maternal home in the west of France. Incorrect You will find loads of northerners traveling to the south of Italy by this time next year.
Correct You will find loads of Northerners traveling to the south of Italy by this time next year. I have my share of eastern bankers, and I must say there are quite revered for their expertise in the financial market.
I have my share of Eastern bankers, and I must say there are quite revered for their expertise in the financial market. Incorrect The southern district of the President’s re-election campaign team has come up with the goods.
Correct The Southern District of the President’s re-election campaign team has come up with the goods. Correct I would love to spend my holidays in western Massachusetts.
My marketing territory caters to a significant part of the Eastern states. My marketing territory caters to a significant part of the eastern states.