Capitalization rules in English can be tricky. Knowing what and when to capitalize can stall your writing progress. You may be aware of capitalization rules regarding weekdays and months. However, you may also wonder whether seasons should be capitalized. To shed some light on this topic, we’ll explore the rules and conventions of capitalizing seasons. By the end of this post, you’ll know when to capitalize – and when not to capitalize – seasons.
The General Rule
In most cases, we don’t capitalize seasons. Spring, summer, fall (also called autumn), and winter are usually written in lowercase:
I love the crisp air of fall.
We’re planning to visit Spain next summer.
However, there are times when seasons need to be capitalized – and you may already have spotted one of them above.
Exceptions to the Rule
Exception 1: At the Beginning of a Sentence
When a season name starts a sentence, it must – like any word that starts a sentence – be capitalized:
Winter is my favorite season.
Exception 2: When Part of a Proper Noun
We typically capitalize proper nouns in English. Likewise, although seasons are not proper nouns, if one forms part of a proper noun, we would capitalize it. One typical example of this is when a season is associated with a specific event, like this:
Thousands of people every year love experiencing the Quebec Winter Carnival.
It’s also important to be aware that Summer is a given name for a woman. In that case, you would need to capitalize Summer because it’s a proper noun:
Summer is a talented pianist who’ll perform at a concert in New York next year.
Exception 3: In Titles and Headlines
We capitalize seasons when they appear in a title or headline:
A Winter’s Tale
Fall Fashion Trends for 2023
Exception 4: In Specific Contexts
In certain contexts, such as poetry or artistic writing, we can give an animal or object the qualities and attributes of a human, which is called personification. We can also personify seasons; when we do, we need to capitalize them.
Let’s consider an example in a passage from “The Human Seasons” by the late English poet John Keats:
Find this useful?
Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.
Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
He has his Summer, when luxuriously
Spring’s honied cud of youthful thought he loves
This is less common in standard prose; however, it’s worth mentioning, especially if you happen to take literature courses in college.
Examples of Correct Capitalization of Seasons
Jim can’t wait for spring break.
Summer means quality time at my cottage in Muskoka.
The 2026 Winter Olympics will take place in Milan and Cortina.
Fall foliage in New England is breathtaking.
Common Errors To Avoid
I prefer Spring to fall.
I prefer spring to fall.
We’re planning a trip to the mountains in Winter.
We’re planning a trip to the mountains in winter.
The festival takes place every Summer.
The festival takes place every summer.
In conclusion, the general rule is that seasons are not capitalized unless they:
· Start a sentence
· Are part of a proper noun
· Appear in titles or headlines
· Are capitalized for stylistic reasons
If a woman’s name is Summer, we would capitalize it because it’s a proper noun.
Adhering to these guidelines will help you correctly capitalize seasons when writing about them and ensure your writing looks polished and professional.