orthography An orthography is a set of convention (norm), conventions for writing a language, including norms of spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word, word breaks, Emphasis (typography), emphasis, and punctuation. Most transnational languages in the ...
sometimes uses the term proper adjective to mean
adjective In linguistics, an adjective ( abbreviated ) is a word that generally modifies a noun or noun phrase or describes its referent. Its semantic role is to change information given by the noun. Traditionally, adjectives were considered one of the m ...
s that take initial capital letters, and common adjective to mean those that do not. For example, a person from India is Indian—''Indian'' is a proper adjective.


The term ''
proper noun A proper noun is a noun that identifies a single entity and is used to refer to that entity (''Africa'', ''Jupiter'', ''Sarah'', ''Microsoft)'' as distinguished from a common noun, which is a noun that refers to a class of entities (''continent, ...
'' denotes a noun that, grammatically speaking, identifies a specific unique entity; for example, ''England'' is a proper noun, because it is a name for a specific country, whereas ''dog'' is not a proper noun; it is, rather, a ''common noun'' because it refers to any one member of a group of dog animals. In English orthography, most proper nouns are capitalized and most common nouns are not. As a result, the term ''proper noun'' has come to mean, in lay usage, a noun that is capitalized, and ''common noun'' to mean a noun that is not capitalized. Furthermore, English adjectives that derive from proper nouns are usually capitalized. This has led to the use of the terms ''proper adjective'' and ''common adjective'', with meanings analogous to the lay meanings of ''proper noun'' and ''common noun''. Proper adjectives are just capitalized adjectives.


In general, an adjective is capitalized if it means "pertaining to ''X''" where ''X'' is some specific person, place, language, or organized group. Most capitalized adjectives derive from
proper nouns A proper noun is a noun that identifies a single entity and is used to refer to that entity (''Africa'', ''Jupiter'', ''Sarah'', ''Microsoft)'' as distinguished from a common noun, which is a noun that refers to a class of entities (''continent, ...
; for example, the proper adjective ''American'' derives from the proper noun ''America''. Sometimes, an adjective is capitalized because it designates an ethnic group with a shared culture, heritage, or ancestry. This usage asserts the existence of a unified group with common goals. For example, in Canadian government documents, ''Native'' and ''Aboriginal'' are capitalized. An adjective can lose its capitalization when it takes on new meanings, such as ''chauvinistic''. In addition, over time, an adjective can lose its capitalization by convention, generally when the word has overshadowed its original reference, such as ''gargantuan'', ''quixotic'', ''titanic'', or ''roman'' in the term ''roman numerals''.

Proper adverbs

adverb An adverb is a word or an expression that generally modifies a verb, adjective, another adverb, determiner, clause, preposition, or sentence. Adverbs typically express manner, place, time, frequency, degree, level of certainty, etc., answering que ...
formed from a capitalized adjective is itself capitalized. For example: *We have regularly received enquiries regarding the availability of Islamic finance products, in particular Islamically compatible finance to purchase both residential and commercial properties. *There are people who express themselves 'Germanly', while others have forms of life that are expressed 'Frenchly', 'Koreanly' or 'Icelandicly'.Margalit, A., 1997, "The Moral Psychology of Nationalism", in McKim and McMahan (eds.), 1997, ''The Morality of Nationalism'', Oxford University Press: Oxford, as quoted by

Other languages

In other languages which use writing systems with lowercases and uppercases, adjectives derived from proper nouns are commonly not capitalized.


Czech language uses adjectives (and adverbs) derived from proper nouns uncapitalized, e.g. český jazyk (Czech language), londýnské metro (London Underground), pražské mosty (Prague bridges), romské písně (Romani songs), hrabalovská poezie (Hrabal-style poetry) etc., if the adjective isn't the first word of a compound proper name or of the sentence. However, possessive adjectives are capitalized as if it were some case of a noun. Eg. Petrův dům (Peter's house], Moničina tužka (Monika's pencil) etc. A special case is the adjective Boží (God's) that is usually written with a capital letter as a possessive in a religious context, but with a small letter in the meaning "divine", also "božský". However, less educated users of Czech are often influenced by English and transfer English capitalization rules to Czech, and it is considered an error against standard Czech.

See also

Capitalization Capitalization (American English) or capitalisation (British English) is writing a word with its first letter as a capital letter (uppercase letter) and the remaining letters in lower case, in writing systems with a case distinction. The term ...
Demonym A demonym (; ) or gentilic () is a word that identifies a group of people (inhabitants, residents, natives) in relation to a particular place. Demonyms are usually derived from the name of the place (hamlet, village, town, city, region, province, ...
Letter case Letter case is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minuscule'') in the written representation of certain languages. The writing ...
List of adjectival forms of place names The following is a partial list of adjectival forms of place names in English and their demonymic equivalents, which denote the people or the inhabitants of these places. Note: Demonyms are given in plural forms. Singular forms simply remove the ...
* List of case-sensitive English words * List of eponymous adjectives in English


External links

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Google Answers
on the choice between -an, -ian, -ean, and related suffixes {{DEFAULTSORT:Proper Adjective Adjectives by type English orthography