General Question

occ's avatar

Do names of seasons get capitalized?

Asked by occ (4083points) February 26th, 2007
i.e., is it Winter, Fall, Spring, Summer... or winter, fall, spring, summer?
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

24 Answers

nomtastic's avatar
not capitalized, not in english anyways.
sarahsugs's avatar
lower case.
ABH's avatar
if the seasons are being used in an allegorical way they would be capitalized.
gailcalled's avatar
Can you give an example of allegorical usage? Interesting..
finkelitis's avatar
First line of a Shelley poem gives an example of the allegorical:WILD West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
gailcalled's avatar
Wonderful quote. Thanks, Dan'l.
hossman's avatar
Only capitalize the name of the season when the season is being personified (referred to as if a person, or given the attributes of a person).
hossman's avatar
Just noticed the characterization of Shelley's line "Wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being. . ." The correct literary term is not "allegorical," but rather "apostrophe," which is addressing a non-person, object, quality, or absent person as if it is a present person. An allegory is a literary device where words are used not just for their literal meaning, but for a cohesive scheme of figurative usage. Allegories are a sustained form of metaphor.
artemisdivine's avatar

Capitalize this!

Proper nouns

Specific persons and things: George W. Bush, the White House, General Motors Corporation.

Specific geographical locations: Hartford, Connecticut, Africa, Forest Park Zoo, Lake Erie, the Northeast, the Southend. However, we do not capitalize compass directions or locations that aren’t being used as names: the north side of the city; we’re leaving the Northwest and heading south this winter. When we combine proper nouns, we capitalize attributive words when they precede place-names, as in Lakes Erie and Ontario, but the opposite happens when the order is reversed: the Appalachian and Adirondack mountains. When a term is used descriptively, as opposed to being an actual part of a proper noun, do not capitalize it, as in “The California deserts do not get as hot as the Sahara Desert.”

Names of celestial bodies: Mars, Saturn, the Milky Way. Do not, howver, capitalize earth, moon, sun, except when those names appear in a context in which other (capitalized) celestial bodies are mentioned. “I like it here on earth,” but “It is further
from Earth to Mars than it is from Mercury to the Sun.

Names of newspapers and journals. Do not, however, capitalize the word the, even when it is part of the newspaper’s title: the Hartford Courant.

Days of the week, months, holidays. Do not, however, capitalize the names of seasons (spring, summer, fall, autumn, winter). “Next winter, we’re traveling south; by spring, we’ll be back up north.”

tictac's avatar

nop not in English or Spanish

mickey21's avatar

is winter a proper noun

the_pen's avatar

I just read Hossman’s last response here—I’m really glad you wrote this because it made me educate myself about “apostrophe”. That quote does contain apostrophe, but it’s not “Autumn,” it’s “Wind.” Now my question is, what is “Autumn” here? It’s certainly being anthropomorphised, but what figure of speech does that make it and why is it OK to capatilize it?

pljohn761's avatar

The non-capitalization of the names of the seasons makes no sense to me. Where did this rule come from? Why capitalize the names of days of the week and names of months yet not the seasons of the year? Did this capitalization practice change at some point? I was always taught that proper nouns were the names of particular (i.e. specific one of kind items) persons, places, or things, and that all proper nouns should be capitalized . The names of the seasons certainly meet this criteria and I, for one, will, as I always have throughtout my 60 yr life, capitlaize them. It bugs me to see the names of the seasons in print in lower case.

summerbum's avatar

What about during the fall I raked leaves. ???? Were you falling while you raked? How confusing!

amyswabe's avatar

It is not an apostrophe. An apostrophe is a punctuation mark. It is an apositive – a noun or noun phrase that renames another noun and may include modifiers (adjectives, prepositional phrases). For ex: My mother, Mary Smith, is a nurse. “Mary Smith” is the apositive of “my mother,” a renaming of the noun phrase. As for capitalization, seasons are not capitalized unless they occur in a title – “Winter Catalogue 2010” or the like. As for the falling and raking above, a comma is optional after fall which would clarify, as is a dose of common sense which would also clarify the sentence.

writetopixie's avatar

summerbum, when out of context one can assume that it is the most logical term. So, if one were talking about an actual tumble then it would be introduced, not to mention that it is more probable to fall while raking leaves that to rake leaves while you fall. ;)

Jonosarasota's avatar

Winter is winter. Autumn is autumn. Summer is summer, and also a female name that would demand capitalization—I mean if you want to confuse a season with a woman it should be a deliberate choice.

But Fall can be a verb or a noun and Spring can be a verb or a noun, so I capitalize these seasons to help the reader along. Unconventional? Perhaps. But I prefer to err on the side of clarity, as when I type alumn instead of alum as an abbreviation for alumnus. Who wants a graduate to be confused with hydrated potassium aluminum sulfate??

John_D's avatar

This discussion is three years old, but maybe someone is still following it. When I was in high school (back when all the trees were short), my English teachers were extremely particular and correct. They taught me to capitalize the seasons, which seems logical since it would be easy to mix up “spring” with a spring and “fall” with a disaster. But now I have seen that all commentary that I read and grammar that I research says that the seasons are not capitalized. Did anyone else learn, back in the fifties and sixties to capitalize the seasons?

John_D's avatar

I wanted to add someone else’s answer to the question which I believe is the correct answer: When a season-word [ summer, fall ] is used as a noun, its usage makes it a proper noun, that is a “name” for a time period, like “the Bronze Age” is a name used to name a time period. So, in the sentence “I will return to school in the Fall,” the season word is the name (by definition all names are proper nouns in English) of that period of time, and so it is capitalized.

But season-words are also used as adjectives. “The summer line of sun dresses.” Or, “the winter movie schedule.” Since in this situation the season words are not nouns—they are adjectives which modify nouns—they cannot be Proper nouns; they are no longer names. And so should not be capitalized.

But the unofficial “what people actually do” answer is:

In typical written English, people are tending to avoid capitalization. Newspapers and publishers prefer things simple as well. So the trend is not to capitalize season words, especially as readers understand the meaning either way. And when usage changes, the official grammatical answer does too—eventually.

Read more:

cmartio130's avatar

An apostrophe is a punctuation mark, but it is also a literary device—the address of an inanimate object or a historical figure who cannot answer (for example, Wordsworth’s poem that calls on John Milton: “Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour:”). “Autumn” is capitalized in Shelley’s ode because of personification, another literary device. Seasons are not capitalized unless they are the first word in the sentence or if they appear as part of the title of a work.

smormad's avatar

What about when seasons are combined with the year, such as, “Spring 2011”?

Foolonthehill's avatar

Should the season “Winter” be capitalized (er, capitalised)?
Answer: When not in England.

All English school children learn that proper nouns are names of things that are specific, individual, and can not be confused with other things. Jim can not be confused with David. Tuesday can not be Wednesday. Winter can not be Summer, and when it comes to proper nouns, London can definitely not be confused with New York!

I am having fun and being flip, not meaning to offend. In truth though, when in England or when writing in English, I capitalise the season names. In America or when writing for Americans, I do not capitalize the season names.

Oh! By the way. The four seasons in England are Spring, Summer, Winter, and Autumn.

JasonZhang10000's avatar

It is not capitalized

arquero's avatar

English has so many inconsistencies, and that’s not even getting into whether or not its GB’s English or the USA’s, but in the case of seasons there are defenders of both capitalization, or not, and those that stand on some linguistic moral high ground demanding not.

Personally, it just feels uncomfortable not to capitalize them, and I hate having to come up with illogical excuses on why not to capitalize them to students.

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