Monday, June 27, 2011

Editing for Grammarphobes: Summer Fun

It is almost Independence Day in the United States, and the temperature is heating up in Chicago. Unfortunately, the humidity level is rising as well, condemning me to countless days of unreliable, frizzy hair and a perpetual state of sticky malaise.

But, what about the words associated with the season?

Summer

The word, “summer,” much like all of the seasonal names should not be capitalized unless the season is being personified, such as in poetry or a particularly lively piece of writing.

Example

summer solstice
summer vacation
summer

Personification Example

And Summer, with her sun beating down mercilessly and omnipresent mosquitoes...

Sunbathe

The word, “sunbathe,” should be one word, not split into two. This also goes for the verb forms of sunbathed and sunbathing.

Sun

When referring to the sun, keep it lowercase. The word is not a proper noun like other heavenly bodies, such as Venus or Saturn. The only time it should be capitalized is when referred to in its Greek (Helios) or Latin (Sol) name, but who really does that nowadays?

Summertime

As you can see, “summertime” is one word.

Sun Belt

This refers to America’s states in the South and West, from Florida and Georgia through the Gulf states and on into California. This geographical reference should be capitalized.

Sources
The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1969. Print.

The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. Norm Goldstein, ed. Cambridge: Perseus, 2000. Print.

6 comments:

Kelly Hashway said...

I'm so glad you posted this. I'm constantly correcting people (mostly my husband) when they capitalize the seasons for no reason. My husband is insistent that they are supposed to be capitalized. I may just have to make him read this because apparently my degree in English isn't enough to make him believe me.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Apparently not, Kelly. What do we know, right? :)

R. Doug Wicker said...

Well, you certainly got me on this one. I always capitalized the name of the season for some reason.

Good job. Bad me.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Glad I could be a help. :)

Nobody's perfect, you know.

Lena said...

I am always amazed at people who know all the proper grammar to use. I yearn to do better, but there are so many grammar rules, much like math.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Lena, I'm a big "when in doubt look it up" sort of person. No one can possibly remember all of the grammar rules. That's why I run this feature, so it can remind readers what to watch for when they are editing their writing.

If you have specific questions, post them, and I will find your answers.