Are season names capitalized?

The names of the seasons don’t need capitalization because they are not proper nouns.

Maria Paton
Maria Paton

What about you? Do you capitalize seasons? The names of the seasons don’t need capitalization because they are not proper nouns. Words such as winter, summer, spring, fall, and autumn are common nouns written in lowercase. You’re not alone if you have the temptation to hit the shift key. But a season is a generic reference, and no capitalization should be used:

I’m going to plant roses in the spring.
We bought woolen hats and gloves to keep us warm this winter.
The academic year begins in autumn.
Is summer capitalized if I use it in a sentence?

When to capitalize seasons?

Now we know why we don’t capitalize season names. But there are a few simple exceptions to the rule.

At the beginning of a sentence

When a season is the first word in a sentence, it must be capitalized according to the usual sentence capitalization rules:

Summer is the best time for sunbathing.

Season names as part of a proper noun

A season must be capitalized in case it is a part of a proper noun:

One day he will compete at the Winter Olympics.
The classes are listed in the Fall Semester Schedule.

Seasons as proper names or part of a title

Season names must be capitalized if used as a proper name or as part of a title. Summer and autumn, for instance, have become popular given names. In this case, capitalization is required:

My sister, Summer, graduated last year.
In 1609, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale was first performed.

Seasons personified

Seasons are often personified in fiction and poetry because we associate them with emotions. When the name of a season is personified, it must be capitalized:

By mid-November, Winter let her cruel impatience be known.

The final word

So, you need to capitalize a season name only if it is at the very beginning of a sentence or is part of a proper noun. The easiest way to remember these rules is to think of a season name as a generic reference to a part of the year. We associate seasons with weather conditions, special occasions, and popular activities. Winter, spring, summer, and fall are not specific references to time or calendar dates and thus are generic nouns written without capitalization.

Examples of using season names:

The Words (2012)
Into the Wild (2007)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Dead Poets Society (1989)

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