Capital vs. Capitol – Usage, Difference & Examples

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Are you wanting to expand your English vocabulary? Do you ever get confused by the words capital and capitol? If so, this post is perfect for you! Capital vs. capitol can be tricky to understand.

But no need to worry. I’m here to give you an in-depth explanation of these two similar-sounding words that are actually quite different. You’ll learn all about their definitions, how they are used in a sentence, and why it’s important to know the difference.

Is It Capital or Capitol?

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Capital is a generalized term that refers to the wealth or resources owned by an individual, government, organization, or business. It can also refer to cities serving as government centers for countries or regions, such as London in the United Kingdom and Beijing in China.

A capitol is specifically a public building that serves as the seat of government for a nation state, province, region, or other political entity. Capitals have existed since ancient times, while capitols typically refer only to buildings constructed in more modern nations.

Definitions of Capital

The term “capital” has multiple meanings depending on the context. The concept is most frequently used to refer to a city, usually, one that functions as the core or headquarters of a region, country, or empire.

Example: This capital city is often the seat of the government and will generally be the largest city with respect to population and importance in its region.

The word can also be utilized when referring to money or assets that an individual or organization has obtained.

It’s also less commonly used in place of the word great. For example, you could say, “That’s a capital idea!” which loosely means a great idea.

Lastly, it can describe any letter featuring an uppercase letter at the start of a sentence, text, or title. This is more commonly known as capital letters which are used for capitalizing proper nouns like names and places.

Capital also refers to punishments with execution, like the death penalty.

Meaning of Capitol

The term “capitol” is defined as a building, typically in the form of a building complex or other structure, which houses a legislative government body and its branch offices and areas devoted to official government functions.

It is commonly associated with the seat of a state’s government. Often, the building may be referred to as the federal capitol building when it is the center of government operations.

Example: Capitols are seen around the world, from Washington, DC, to London and Tokyo, offering insight into local and global politics in each place.

How Do You Remember the Difference Between Capital and Capitol?

A fun trick to remember when you want to distinguish the meaning of these two words is to think of the letter “o” in the word “capitol.”

Think of the “o” as “only one definition,” and you’ll instantly remember that the word “capitol” can only mean one thing.

How Do You Use Capital and Capitol in a Sentence?

When trying to use these two words in a sentence, consider their definitions first.

Here are some examples showing how to use “capital” in a sentence:

  • Is your brand name spelled with capital letters?
  • Ever since she was a kid, her dream has been to become a writer and move to the capital.
  • Some claim that Ted Bundy didn’t deserve capital punishment.
  • John was ready to invest some capital in Trisha’s startup.

Let’s continue with some examples of using “capitol” in a sentence:

  • You can find an impressive number of sculptures on the capitol’s third floor.
  • A lot of the important decisions in the US are discussed in the Capitol.

Is DC the Capitol or Capital?

The DC is the capital, but the building where the US congress meets and is located in the capital of DC is known as the Capitol.

In the End

Capital refers to a city that serves as the government center for a country or region, or to the wealth or resources owned by an individual, government, organization, or business.

A capitol is specifically a public building that houses a legislative body and its branch offices. An easy trick to remember the difference between these two words is that “capitol” has “only one definition.”

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