Oh Heck! Another Quirky Writing Error
Important date coming up on my calendar: April 4th, my birthday. Nothing quirky about that! But in our house, April is Birthday Month with little presents arriving daily. (Hmmm, maybe I could extend this to Birthday Season. I’ll try that idea out on my husband. I’m sure he’ll agree.
Seriously, though, one error that pops up frequently in draft articles for our community newsletter is the use of capital letters on the seasons.
Names of months, days of the week, and holidays all begin with capital letters, but, alas, the generic four seasons do not receive any special recognition so do not get capital letters.
When you write for academic or journalistic purposes write your seasons like this: spring, summer, fall (and autumn), and winter.
Of course, there are times when you should capitalization the seasons.
1. When it is the first word in a sentence or quote. (Duh.)
** Summer is my favorite time of the year, but winter in Florida is nice, too.
** Many of us use a mnemonic device to help us remember when to change our clocks for Daylight Savings Time, “Spring ahead; fall behind.”
“Spring has sprung,
The grass has riz.
I wonder where the flowers iz.”
2. On titles of articles
** Here is an article that does it right: “Spring Equinox Desert Reborn.” A season is capitalized in the title but not in the body of the article.
3. When it is part of a formal title
** Winter Olympics
** Autumnal Equinox Celebration & Official Farm-to-Fork Week Kick-off (Soil Born Farms, Sacramento, CA)
** Spring Semester 2014
** 2014 Spring Jazz Fest, Cape May, New Jersey
Sorry, summer vacation, though it is, indeed, a very special time of the year for many people, does not merit a capital letter.
4. In poetry, when a season is given human qualities (personification).
The Greeks and Romans and other ancients loved the seasons, often attributing human qualities to them, a technique called personification, and when they did, they used capital letters.
Finally, remember, in the most common usages of the seasons in writing, do not use capital letters.
Your turn: What quirky errors do you find in writing? Which ones annoy you the most?
Janice Hall Heck is a retired educator and now
nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ.