Capitalization in Quotes

We need quotation marks to quote other people, imply double meanings, and show titles. But is the beginning of a quote capitalized

In this guide, I’ll help you enhance your understanding of capitalization in quotes. Keep reading to learn how to use quotation marks in mid-sentences and how to change a case in quotes.

Is It Correct to Capitalize the First Word in a Quote?

Every complete sentence starts with a capital letter. But it can be more confusing when you need to apply capitalization rules in a quotation. Is the beginning of a quote capitalized?

Capitalization in quotes only occurs when you are quoting a complete sentence or starting with a proper noun

Example:

Grammarist Article Graphic V2 2022 08 12T190129.093
  • “We went to the hospital today,” Peter stated.

In this sentence, the quotation marks start at the beginning. “We” begins with a capital letter because the quotation is a complete sentence.

Here’s another example where the placement of punctuation is different.

  • Peter “went to the hospital,” but I saw him at John’s house.

“Went” starts with a lowercase letter because “went to the hospital” is an incomplete sentence or a partial quotation.

Are Quotes in the Middle of a Sentence Capitalized?

Seeing a capital letter mid-sentence might feel weird, but it’s possible.

A capitalization in mid-sentence is acceptable if the direct quotation is a complete sentence.

Example:

  • The golden rule of writing fiction is, “Show, don’t tell,” and it has been forever.

Here’s a different example:

  • When people started questioning the former President, Richard Nixon was firm in saying he was “not a crook” when people started accusing him.

The lack of capitalization in the quotation is because “not a crook” is a sentence fragment.

Do You Capitalize After a Comma in a Quote?

Yes. A verb of saying followed by a comma requires a capital letter for its following direct quotation. Some verbs of saying include:

  • Exclaims.
  • Says.
  • Announces.
  • Writes.
  • States.
  • Mentions.

Example:

  • Farmer Hoggett says, “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”

Capitalize After a Question Mark in Quotations?

No. It would be best if you didn’t capitalize after a question within quotation marks.

Example:

  • “Do you know where Mr. Gold is?” he asked.

How to Change a Case in a Quote

According to the APA style, “The first letter of the first word in a quotation may be changed to an uppercase or lowercase letter to fit the context of the sentence in which the quotation appears.”

Notice how the quotation above starts with a capital letter. Because the APA style says you can change the case, here’s an example of how to do so:

  • The APA style states we can change a word’s first letter to a capital or small letter “to fit the context of the sentence in which the quotation appears.”

Other Rules for Direct Quotations

The most general rule is to use double quotation marks for a single sentence of quotation.

Example:

Grammarist Article Graphic V2 2022 08 12T190454.918
  • Correct: “I wish you were here,” said Jess.
  • Incorrect: Jess said he “wishes you were here.”

The second example is incorrect since “wishes you were here” are not the exact words of Jess.

A block quotation after a verb and a colon requires the capitalization of the first letter of the first word.

Example:

Paolo Freire writes:

Implicit in the banking concept is the assumption of a dichotomy between human beings and the world: a person is merely in the world, not with the world or with others; the individual is spectator, not re-creator. In this view, the person is not a conscious being (corpo consciente); he or she is rather the possessor of a consciousness: an empty “mind” passively open to the reception of deposits of reality from the world outside. (historyisaweapon.com)

Quotations within quotations often lead to punctuation mistakes. Always use single quotation marks for the quotation within the quotation. Then, use double quotation marks to show the third level of quotation.

Example:

  • Sookie said, “Jackson told me: ‘It’s a one-day course at the “learning center.”’ Then, I gave him permission.”

Learn How to Capitalize Quotations

Now you know the answer to, is the beginning of a quote capitalized? Remember

  • Capitalize the first letter of the first word in quotations with complete sentences no matter their placement.
  • Use lowercase letters if the quotation only includes a sentence fragment.

Following these rules will help you communicate your messages more clearly.