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Capitalization of French nouns


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There are several differences between French and English capitalisation of nouns to watch out for, all of which involve words which take a capital in English but not in French:

Days of the week:

  • Monday - lundi

Months:

  • January - janvier

Seasons:

  • Autumn – l’automne

Some geographical words:

1) Street, Avenue etc.:

  • Moliere Street – rue Moliere
  • Victor Hugo Avenue – avenue Victor Hugo

2) Certain geographical features such as seas, oceans, mountains etc. (although the proper name of any of these features is capitalised, as any proper names are):

  • Mediterranean Sea – la mer Méditerranée
  • Mont Blanc – le mont Blanc

Titles which precede a proper noun:

  • Professor Renault - Le professeur Renault
  • President Chirac - Le président Chirac

Languages:

  • French – le français

Nationalities and regions if used as adjectives:

  • The American people – Le peuple américain
  • Parisian life – la vie parisienne

But not if they are used as nouns:

  • An American - Un Américain

Note: the name of countries, as proper names, are capitalised in French as in English:

  • America – l‘Amérique

Most Religions:

The names of most religions, whether as proper names or adjectives, as well as the name of their adherents, are not capitalised in French apart from a few exceptions:

The Religion as a Noun:

  • Christianity – le christianisme
  • Buddhism – le bouddhisme
  • Judaism – le judaïsme
  • Hinduism – le hindouisme

The Religion as an Adjective:

  • Christian – chrétien
  • Jew – juif
  • Hindu – hindou
  • Buddhist – bouddhiste
  • Muslim – musulman

Name of Adherents:

  • a Christian – un chrétien
  • a Muslim – un musulman
  • a Jew – un juif

The exceptions are:

The Religion as a Noun:

  • Islam - l’Islam

Name of Adherents:

  • a Hindu - un Hindou
  • a Buddhist - un Bouddhiste

Accents on capitals?

Traditionally, only Canadian French accents its capital letters, but the distinction has become more relaxed in recent years.

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