Are Seasons Always Capitalized?

Are Seasons Always Capitalized?
  • The general rule says that seasons should not be capitalized. They are common nouns, not proper nouns.
  • But there are a few exceptions that call for capitalization. Capitalize the name of a season when it’s the first word of a sentence or part of a proper noun. If the season is being personified, you can capitalize it then, too.

When we write the days of the week, we capitalize their names. We do the same for months. But when it comes to seasons, more often than not you’ll see them written in lowercase. Not that they’re always written that way—once in a while you’ll see them capitalized, which should suggest that there are some capitalization rules that apply to seasons after all. So here they are.

In General, Can You Capitalize Seasons?

The general rule is that you should not capitalize the names of the seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall (or autumn). The names of the seasons are not proper nouns. They’re general nouns, so they follow the capitalization rules that apply to other general nouns.

Does that seem unfair? We capitalize Monday and February, so why not summer? It’s a valid question. But then again, if we were to always capitalize the names we give to specific periods of time, wouldn’t we then also have to capitalize afternoon or morning? You can debate this as much as you’d like (and please do in the comment section), but as things stand right now, seasons are common nouns, so no capital letters for them.

When Can You Capitalize the Names of Seasons?

There’s one exception that you’ve probably already thought of: when the name of a season is the first word of a sentence, you should capitalize it. Likewise, capitalize seasons when they are part of a proper name or a title, like the Summer Olympics. If your name is Summer, which is great because it’s a lovely name, there’s no reason not to capitalize your own name.

If you’re a poetic soul and you like to think about seasons as if they were people, you can also capitalize their names. If you want to write a verse that describes how summer is caressing you with his warm arms, go ahead and capitalize that “s.” But when you’re done with the poem, remember to switch back to lowercase in your everyday correspondence.

Examples

This fall, you can cozy up in military-style outerwear, throw on a tartan coat, try out a sweeping cape, or keep the chill at bay with an elevated version of the workaday puffer jacket.
New York Magazine

Southern California is having its smoggiest summer in nearly a decade and hospitals report an increase of people with breathing problems.
ABC News

You could say Rob Connolly’s competent but slight thriller “Edge of Winter” is about extreme roughing it.
The New York Times

Only at the end of spring did they rise above average, the Woodland Trust said.
The Guardian

Weekly Grammar Tips
Weekly Grammar Tips
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Comments
  • Zenith

    How about when talking about academics? e.g., Fall admission, or Fall Semester, or Fall 2016? Is it okay to capitalize?

  • Peachie Stevenson

    What about degrees? When do you capitalize masters and bachelors

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