IngramSpark, the print-on-demand service, has a page of “Essential Writing Tips for Authors.” Today we are going to attempt to interpret one of them.

Use Proper Capitalization of Pronouns

It’s simply lazy for a writer not to check the correct spelling and capitalization of pronouns. And remember not to capitalize a civic title, such as president or governor, unless it is used as part of that person’s name. For example, write: “It was time for the governor to speak.” Do not write: “It was time for the Governor to speak.” Similarly, it is correct to write: “It was time for Governor Watkins to speak.” It is incorrect to write: “It was time for governor Watkins to speak.”

Let us set this up as a multiple-choice quiz.

Based on the advice in the paragraph above, what do you think a pronoun is?

A. A noun referring to a professional, such as a governor or an insulation contractor.

B. A proper noun, such as “Watkins” after “Governor.”

C. A noun that gets paid for its work, as opposed to an amateur noun. (“ ‘When I make a word do a lot of work like that,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘I always pay it extra.’ ”)

D. A noun that stands in front of another noun, like “Governor” in front of “Watkins.”

E. A noun written in Donald Trump Capitals, such as Governor or Insulation Contractor.


  1. tom says:

    5. None of the above in this universe.

    (Maybe elsewhere, Erehwon for example)

    • Dr. Boli says:

      “You are bound to hear a lot of unsolicited advice from friends and would-be writers as you write and publish your book,” says the page at IngramSpark. “Just make sure that the guidelines you follow along the way come from a professional or experienced source.”

  2. John Salmon says:

    Not capitalizing “governor”, “president”, “pope” when they stand alone looks stupid. It is one of those newly invented “rules”, like random capitalization of certain races, that should simply be ignored.

    In Spain (and certain other countries), there are language academies that make up rules for usage and spelling that everybody follows. Double l is no longer a letter of its own, for instance. We don’t need a similar academy for English.

  3. The Shadow says:

    I’m willing to live and let live when it comes to nouns.

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