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?


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.


summer solstice
summer vacation

Personification Example

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


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


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?


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.

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.


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of three contemporary women's fiction novels and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


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.
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.
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.
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.

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