Happy Fourth of July, everyone! In honor of Independence Day, we’ll take a look at a star-spangled pair of homophones: capital and capitol.
The difference between capital and capitol frequently trips people up, not least because the two words are related—in fact, one often sits right inside the other.
What do I mean? Well, capitol—with an o—refers to a building. Our nation’s Capitol is the domed building where Congress meets in Washington, DC. Our nation’s capital—with an a—is the city itself: Washington, DC.
States and other countries also have capitols, the buildings where their own legislatures meet. And they have capitals too: Sacramento, Juneau, Brussels, Kuala Lumpur, Lilongwe, and so on.
CaPiTaL letters also call for capital with an a, as do capital crimes and start-up capital.
Pretty much every time you are using the word, you’ll spell it with an a—unless you’re talking about a building. Make that your rule of thumb. A capital idea!
Here’s to the next draft,
P.S. Be sure to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to suggest a topic or request a consultation with me!