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Do the Names of the Seasons Get Capitalized?
What to Know
The seasons are not proper nouns and are therefore not normally capitalized. Of course, as with other nouns, they should be capitalized at the beginning of sentences and in titles. One poetic exception, is that seasons are sometimes personified, or treated as beings, and in those cases they are often capitalized.
Seasons Aren’t Proper Nouns
The seasons come, the seasons go, and the question remains: do you capitalize them?
In most cases, no. The names of the seasons—spring, summer, fall or autumn, and winter—are not proper nouns, so they only get capitalized when other common nouns get capitalized. For example, a student would write “I’m taking a linguistics class in the spring” or “I took the class in fall 2019,” but a list of available classes might be under a title heading of “Spring 2020 Linguistics Classes.” Season names are of course capitalized at the beginning of sentences too, as in “Spring arrives in March.”
Given that the names of the days of the week and months of the year are capitalized, this advice can feel counterintuitive. Let’s dig in deeper, then, with some examples. Here we have season common nouns being simply the uncapitalized common nouns English meant them to be:
Harry the Dog and Mabel the Cat were chatting when Harry introduced a concerning topic. “A bear,” he said, “violently dismantled my bird feeder this past spring.”
Mabel’s reply was somewhat harsh. “Fool! Don’t you know better than to leave your bird feeder up past late winter?”
In titles, common nouns—including the nouns that refer to the seasons—get capitalized:
Harry chose to ignore Mabel’s tone. “Interestingly enough, the bear left a book behind: John Steinbeck’s The Winter of our Discontent, which, as I’m sure you know, takes its title from Shakespeare’s King Richard III, in which Gloucester says, ‘Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York…’
“Oh, that is interesting,” Mabel concurred, feeling less truculent. “Bears can be funny. I once heard one yell ‘The best song in Grease is “Summer Nights,” don’t @ me.'”
Exception: Personifying the Seasons
The names of the seasons can also be capitalized when they’re personified—that is, being treated like beings:
“How strange!” said Harry. “All the bears I’ve known have been very dismissive of 20th century film—especially musicals. One lovely fall day I heard one reciting the opening to Shelley’s ‘Ode to the West Wind,’ which in my experience is behavior more typical of the ursine: ‘O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being, / Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead / Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing.'”
“Ah, poor dear,” sighed Mabel. “Sounds like someone was feeling some ambivalence about hibernation, which is understandable. I do feel that the winter season can be both brutal and invigorating.”
Bears and our friends aside, the takeaway here is this: don’t capitalize the names of the seasons unless they’re 1) at the beginning of a sentence, 2) in a title or a heading, or 3) being personified.
In General, Can You Capitalize Seasons?
The seasons—winter, spring, summer and fall—do not require capitalization. Some people think these words are proper nouns and capitalize them using the capitalization rule for proper nouns. But seasons are 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 and 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.
A quick summary:
- 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.
Is Spring Break Capitalized?
The rule that “spring” is lowercase is general but there are some exceptions in which you should capitalize seasons and capitalize “spring.”
Phrases such as “Spring Break” and “Spring Semester” should be capitalized when referring to specific events such as “Spring Break 2022” or “Spring Semester 2022” but lowercase otherwise.
Apart from these exceptions, the word spring should always start with lowercase. The most common mistake that people make when writing the names of the seasons is getting confused about the capitalization but these rules will help you write it correctly.
Do You Capitalize The Word “Spring” When Writing?
Writing is a way to clear the mind. A way to put on paper the ideas running through your head, create a storyline with characters and a theme, and paint a whole picture. When writing, all you want is for the creativity to flow, but sometimes, things get in the middle—things like whether “spring” should be capitalized or not.
The word “spring” does not require capitalization whether it is used as a noun or a verb. The only two exceptions are when people use it as a season in source citations or used as a proper noun. When starting a sentence, whether a verb or a noun, always capitalize it.
The word “spring” comes from Old English, “spring” as a noun, and “springan” as a verb. It has a German origin, and its use over time has decreased as many synonyms can replace it in different contexts. Some uses of “spring” as nouns and verbs are as follows:
- Spring is the season between winter and summer. Spring occurs in the northern hemisphere, beginning of March until the end of May, and in the southern hemisphere, from September until the end of November. When you think of traveling to another country, do some research and make sure you are packing for the right season.
- Spring, an elastic device used to pull but returning to its original shape. Commonly seen in mattresses, but with many other uses.
- Spring is a place where water from a subterranean source comes up to the surface.
- Spring, as to suddenly move or jump with speed. E.g., the cat sprang to the counter as soon as its paws touched the carpet.
- Spring, as to originate or to come from. E.g., All this money sprung from an unknown business.
When Do I Ever Capitalize Seasons When Writing Content
Sometimes I’m writing for an academic client—an actual university, not college student trying to con a writer into writing their essay. Or I’m writing about the coolest holiday of all—Halloween, when trees are at their most autumnal. Seasons. They come and they go. But when, oh when, do you make them proper with capitalization? Let’s take a walk down the seasonal lane, shall we?
Yes to Capitalize Seasons
To start, in general, you’re not going to capitalize the seasons. That’s the big, grammatical reveal today. However, there are times when to capitalize seasons. According to Grammarly, capitalize the seasons when the word, i.e., spring, summer, fall, etc., is part of a proper noun. Such as with a proper name or title. Here are some proper uses of when to capitalize seasons:
- Summer Olympic Games aka the Games of the Olympiad
- Winter Olympic Games
- Sad Summer Festival
- Duluth Fall Festival
Also, keep to the norm by capitalizing the season when it is the first word in a sentence or question, such as “Winter is your favorite season?” Finally, if you are calling someone a name according to a season, such as Summer, Winter, Autumn, or Spring, well, that’s going to be capitalized, too. Those are givens to us grammar hounds, but it’s good to know the seasonal capitalization rules—so you know when they are broken.
Generally Not Capitalized
Yes, that’s the case—you generally do not capitalize the seasons. When talking about going on a summer road trip, fall leaf-peeping adventure, or spring break, it’s all common enough to keep to the lowercase leadership. For example:
- In Your Autumn Guide to Australia, From The New York Times (and Friends), The Australia Letter, a weekly report from the Australian bureau, states, “Below you’ll find a collection of informed tips for what to do, eat, see, drink and more over autumn in Australia, from Times journalists and local friends of The Times.”
Two primo examples of autumn in two different formats. Capitalized when part of the title, not capitalized when used in reference to a season.