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Lower case

Capitalization is the use of uppercase ( capital letters , capital letters ) in a font that is both Minuskeln knows as well as capitals and their mixed use the same text allows.

The adjective "uppercase" can refer to a single letter as well as a word . In the case of a word, it usually means the upper case of the first letter and the lower case of all subsequent letters of the word. The Capitalize all the letters of a word is as solid or consistent capitalization, Versalschrift or majuscule referred.

While consistent lower case means avoiding all capital letters, moderate lower case (which is also known as moderate capitalization ) allows certain cases of capitalized words, for example at the beginning of sentences or proper names . In many European written languages, proper names and religious names are capitalized, and polite forms are often capitalized.


In the ancient and early medieval writing systems of the Greco-Latin writing system (including runes , Irish writing , Coptic writing , etc.) and in the non-European written languages ​​( Hebrew writing , Arabic writing , Chinese writing , Japanese writing , etc.), the distinction between uppercase and Unknown lower case. The prerequisites for a mixed use of lowercase and uppercase letters, and thus for capitalization, have only existed since the Middle Ages, especially in the Latin , Cyrillic , Greek and Armenian alphabets , each in different forms.


Capitalization in German originated in the late Middle Ages (only in Middle Latin texts in the 13th century and in German from the 14th century). The first or the first few letters of individual words (not just nouns) were put in uppercase to emphasize these words. Preferred terms from the religious context were emphasized in this way (e.g. “God”).

The capitalization of all nouns and substantiated forms in German was introduced in the 17th century, in the Baroque era .

The capitalization of nouns had spread from Germany into Danish and gained a foothold there through the union with Norway (1521–1814).

The moderate lower case was introduced in Norwegian in 1869. Denmark followed with the 1948 spelling reform .

Basically, Danish texts from the time before 1948 remain unchanged when quoting. It should also be noted that the forms of address [ I (you), De (you), Dem (you), Deres (you)] are capitalized, as well as titles such as Hendes Majestæt (Her Majesty).

The tendency to emphasize individual words with uppercase spelling (usually the whole word) can be found today regardless of the usage at that time and across languages.

A transition to today's form of capitalization gradually took place through use. In the course of time, the many exceptions arose, such as the fact that words are not capitalized if they are not perceived as nouns in the context (e.g. “This is generally not the case”); this exception was withdrawn as part of the 1996 spelling reform . Such exceptions should make it easier to read, but add complexity to the rules of spelling .

German, Luxembourgish and Frisian


In the Latin alphabet (including the German varieties of Low German ), German, along with Luxembourgish , Sater Frisian and two of the North Frisian script dialects ( Sylter Frisian and Helgoländisch ), is the only language whose spelling rules still require a general noun capitalization today, e.g. B. in words like "bread" or "love". Furthermore, proper names are capitalized such as B. "Peter". The courtesy "You", the corresponding possessive pronoun "your" and "you" as an address (eg. B .: I would be you grateful if you ...) are always capitalized. The salutations “you”, “you” and their inflected forms (“dich”, “you” etc.), however, can optionally be capitalized when addressing the reader directly or when using apostrophes , e.g. B. Expressing courtesy, deference, or appreciation; However, there is no capitalization requirement here.

Besides the nouns, most nouns are capitalized. These are words from other parts of speech that form the head of a noun phrase . Nouns can often be recognized by the fact that they are preceded by an article that refers to them ( the good, the knock; at work, to laugh, an age, a three, a squeak) or a pronoun ( this made-up , nothing Exciting, your stuttering), an indefinite number word ( a few students, little good) or another attribute ( Mr. Müller's ability, loud speaking, skillful formulation, bright red). But there are also derived nouns that no such companion have ( the same with for like repay, insiders know their stuff, for young and old ). Furthermore, not every noun is capitalized, but there are exceptions (the two , the other , from near and far , we have different bananas - the yellow ones taste particularly good).

Adjectives and participles are also capitalized if they are part of job titles , positions or titles or classification units in botany, zoology or vehicle types, or if they occur within conventionalized terms. Examples:

  • the sworn auditor
  • the Deputy Inspector of the Army
  • the notched buttercup
  • the flying fish
  • the covered corvette
  • the French revolution
  • the second World War
  • the holy see
  • the promised land

Words at the beginning of sentences or at the beginning of book titles and headings are also usually capitalized.

All other words must be written entirely in lower case, for example "different", "go" and "if". An exception to the rule that only the first letter of a word is capitalized are abbreviations in which the lower or upper case of a certain letter is based on the case of the abbreviated word. For example, is "GmbH" for " G ompany m it b eschränkter H IABILITY" and "Highway Code" for " St racial V erkehrs- O rdnung".


As part of the reform of German spelling from 1996 to 2006 , the abolition of noun capitalization was up for discussion and was supported by the responsible scientific committee; In the end, however, it was even decided - also because of political pressure - a slightly increased capitalization (e.g. tonight, furthermore, in advance ). Furthermore, capitalization in general and in particular the sometimes inconsistent regulation of uppercase and lowercase in German is criticized as a source of spelling errors.

Some German writers, u. a. the Brothers Grimm , repeatedly advocated the lower case of nouns. The lower case article contains further, more detailed aspects of this topic and studies on it.



In English , all words in the basic vocabulary are written in lower case, with the exception of proper names and some derivatives of proper names (see below). This doesn't just refer to names like John or Mary, but z. B. also on brand names or product names . For example, windows is the plural of the English word for window, but Windows is an operating system from Microsoft . Furthermore, u. a. capitalized:

  • the personal pronoun "I" (I)
  • Words at the beginning of a sentence
  • Names of people, institutions, bodies, historical events, political parties, documents, epochs and school subjects
  • Words in work titles and headings (the latter only in US publications); short words (articles, particles, prepositions, ...) are often not capitalized
  • Country names, national names and languages ​​as well as the associated adjectives; Place names and derivatives for denoting the inhabitants, e.g. B. Glasgow, Glaswegian
  • Days of the week, month names, rivers, seas, areas, satellites , planets and stars; Earth (Earth), Sun (Sun) and Moon (Moon) may therefore also be capitalized in the astronomical context, whereby the Latin words (Terra for earth, Sol for sun and Luna for moon) are also used here.
  • God (Gott) is the proper name of a monotheistic God, pronouns related to this ( He, His, Him ) are also often capitalized; as a general term, the word god is lowercase.

Capitalization in headings and work titles

In American newspapers and magazines, all words in headlines and titles are usually spelled with a capital letter. The only exception are articles , particles and prepositions with a few letters. They are usually written in lower case. They only have a capital letter if they are the first word of a heading or title or are at the beginning of a new line. Prepositions are also capitalized if they are the last word in a title or a heading. Pronouns are not uniformly upper or lower case. Examples: A Slice of Apple Still Looks Good (Herald Tribune), Tale of a Treasure (Herald Tribune), Their Silence Is Deafening (Herald Tribune), Kicking the Big One (Time), The Holy War of Words (Time).

In British newspapers, only the first word of a heading is usually spelled with a capital letter. The remaining words (except of course proper names and their derivatives) have a lowercase letter. Examples: Publish and be damned (The Guardian), Political soap aims to dish the dirt (The Guardian), Requiem for a tenor (The Times), Don't feather our nest (Daily Telegraph), A Miss Marple for today (Daily Telegraph). Work titles (e.g. of books, plays or music) are written like the headlines in American newspapers: With the exception of the articles, particles and prepositions, all words always have a capital letter. Examples: Androcles and the Lion , The Importance of Being Earnest , Alice in Wonderland , 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea , Plain Tales from the Hills .

International specialties

Not all moderate lowercase countries are case-sensitive. For example, names of peoples and languages ​​are capitalized in English and Dutch and lowercase in Italian, Spanish, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. The same applies to public holidays, with the exception of Italian, which is one of the capitalized languages ​​here. The spelling of institutions and titles is also different; so it is called Queen Elizabeth in English , but la pure Élisabeth in French , and in Danish, after decades of consistent lower case letters, upper case letters were allowed again in such cases a few years ago (today dronningen and Dronningen ). There are also no uniform rules for the spelling of the words for (a certain) state and (a certain) church .

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: capitalization  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See about page 2 of the contract document of the Hamburg settlement of 1701 .
  2. Michael Schneider: History of German orthography with special consideration of developments since 1994. Materials on (new) German orthography, University of Marburg, pp. 1–30.
  3. "The baroque naturalized the capital letters in the German spelling ." Walter Benjamin : Gesammelte Schriften. Frankfurt am Main 1980, Volume 1, p. 382.
  4. Duden online: Upper or lower case of "du / Du" and "Ihr / Ihr" (accessed on February 4, 2015.)
  5. Sprachreport, Extra Edition July 1996, Section D) Upper and lower case.
  6. ^ Theodor Ickler : GKS history . In: My spelling diary; November 29, 2005.
  7. Philologists 'Association welcomes “Reform of the Spelling Reform” press release from the German Philologists' Association (DPhV), Berlin, July 31, 2006.
  8. Stefan Stirnemann: On the location of the school. Swiss Orthographic Conference; July 7, 2008.
  9. UPPER CASE. (According to FRIEDERICH p. 60 ff. Or ENGLISH USAGE, p. 118 ff.). (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 18, 2013 ; Retrieved March 5, 2013 .