Capitalization of the word "counties"


Do I capitalize the word counties in the following sentence?


I am traveling to Genesee and Shiawassee counties today.

capitalization asked Jun 15 '12 at 16:03 Jodie Wright New member

4 answers


I agree with Tolley’s answer.

However, I recently had the following discussion with a friend’s sister, who is a copy editor (thankfully not mine). She argued a different view: since the proper name (for the place we were discussing) is County of San Joaquín, it should be San Joaquín county, not San Joaquín County. Her contention was that “county” was being used as an adjective and thus was not part of the name. She cited “the sheriff did not pursue when the suspect crossed the San Joaquin county line.”

I said her sentence was not a valid example—county line is a single-function noun+noun where the first noun modifies the second. In this case, “county” is clearly not part of the proper name.

It was my position that even if San Joaquín County is not the official name, it is in common use as a proper name. Examples shown in the Chicago Manual of Style seem to support this.

But when it came to the plural—San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties—I found myself on shakier ground. Again, she argued that “counties” was functioning as an adjective, not as part of a proper name. Unfortunately, I could not find any plural examples in Chicago to support my position.

Any thoughts?  

link answered Jun 15 '12 at 18:17 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

I've progressed beyond motorcycles and simply levitate myself in front of the oncoming cars now.

Lewis NeidhardtJun 15 '12 at 22:33

I have to argue with sister of friend, Jeff. In your last example, "counties" is the plural noun and, grammatically, San Joaquin and Stanislaus are proper adjectives describing Counties. The only support I have did not come from a style manual but a ninth grade grammar book from Rhinehart.

TolleyJun 16 '12 at 01:31

add comment

Per the NY Times Manual of style, "Counties" is correct, as is "County".

link comment answered Dec 28 '12 at 15:55 Steve New member

I found this answer from a grammar source I've relied on for years:


When the "name" part of the entity precedes the actual noun, we don't capitalize the noun, as in Berrien and Cass counties. On the other hand, if the noun precedes the "names," we would capitalize everything: "We lived along the shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario."

link comment answered Oct 13 '15 at 00:22 Lauren Ruiz New member

No need to capitalize the word "counties".

link comment answered Jun 15 '12 at 16:17 sanjay Expert

Your answer

Write at least 20 characters

Have a question about English grammar, style or vocabulary use? Ask now to get help from Grammarly experts for FREE.