The rules for capitalizing letters in Italian are not the same as in English. In this lesson, you’re going to see how to use le lettere maiuscole, the capital letters in Italian.
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Rules for capital letters in Italian
Capital letters in Italian titles
Unlike in English, you only need to capitalize the first letter of a title, whether it’s the title of a book, a movie or an organization.
Il piccolo principe
The Little Prince
Unione nazionale consumatori
National Consumers Union
However, this rule can be bent, so it’s not set in stone.
Il Signore degli Anelli
The Lord of the Rings
Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite
United Nations Organization
Il Corriere della Sera
Il Corriere della Sera (newspaper)
Weekdays and months are NOT capitalized
This is another difference from English: the Italian months and days of the week don’t begin with a capital letter.
Oggi è lunedì. Domani sarà martedì.
Today is Monday. Tomorrow will be Tuesday.
Sono nato a marzo. Mia sorella, invece, è nata a gennaio.
I was born in March. My sister, on the other hand, was born in January.
The same goes for cardinal points: they are never capitalized, regardless of their function in the sentence, unless we’re talking about the name of a country. Countries, like in English, always begin with capital letters in Italian.
Il sole sorge a est e tramonta a ovest.
The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
Dove si trova la Corea del Nord?
Where is North Korea?
Nationalities are NOT capitalized
Adjectives of nationality and names of languages are never capitalized in Italian, unlike in English.
Sono italiano e parlo francese, spagnolo e tedesco.
I am Italian and I speak French, Spanish and German.
Romani, with a capital letter, is used to address the ancient Romans, while romani, with a lowercase letter, is used to address modern people living in Rome!
God is capitalized, but with a caveat
God, which is Dio in Italian, is capitalized when you’re talking about the God of Christianity (speaking of which, the adjective Christian, cristiano, is never capitalized!).
Lode a Dio.
Praise to God.
This behavior is also reflected in the pronoun Lui, He, as it also happens in English.
If you’re talking about a pagan deity, however, you don’t need a capital letter.
Odino e Thor sono dèi della mitologia norrena.
Odin and Thor are gods of Norse mythology.
Lei… or lei?
Unless you want to sound overly formal in your cover letter, you don’t really need to capitalize the formal pronoun Lei anymore.
Signor Rossi, posso chiederle (chiederLe) un favore?
Mr. Rossi, may I ask you a favor?
Other than that, the Italian rules for capitalization are pretty much the same as the English rules: always remember to capitalize proper nouns (first names, places, rivers, national holidays such as Natale, Christmas…) and the first letter of any sentence after a period and an exclamation/question mark.
And that’s it for the capital letters in Italian! If you still have any doubts about them, feel free to leave a comment.
Aiuta Lingookies con un 👍!
Now that you’ve seen the capital letters in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:
- Useful Italian Words Series
- Common Italian Phrases Series
- Italian grammar lessons and tricks
- Italian idiomatic expressions
Or you might also want an excellent offline Italian grammar resource to take with you at all times (Amazon).
Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Learn to speak Italian like a native? Easy.
Italian All-in-One For Dummies appeals to those readers looking for a comprehensive, all-encompassing guide to mastering the Italian language. It contains content from all For Dummies Italian language instruction titles, including Italian For Dummies, Intermediate Italian For Dummies, Italian Verbs For Dummies, Italian Phrases For Dummies, Italian Grammar For Dummies, and Italian For Dummies Audio Set.
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