The University of Waikato - Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato
Student Learning
Waikato Home Waikato Home > Student Life > Student Learning > Grammar
Staff + Student Login


Hover over the grey underlined or bold words for pop-up notes.


*Asterisk = examples of errors or poor constructions*.

Student Learning: Grammar

Using capitals - Lesson two

  1. 2.1 People's titles:

    Civil, religious, military and professional titles of office which precede someone's name always start with a capital letter. These indicate that someone has a certain importance in society, but they shouldn't be over-used.

Presiding over the case was Judge Prendergast, who was in charge of the entire day's proceedings.

Helen Clarke's husband is Doctor Peter Davis.

  1. 2.2 Don't use capitals for general titles:

    However, when a title of office does not directly refer to a person but is used generally it is not capitalised. For example, Professor [McCraw] (as part of someone's title) should have a capital, but 'professor' may also be a common noun and (in that context) not need a capital.

Helen Clarke's husband is a doctor who is currently also a professor in medical sociology.

Presiding over the case was Judge Prendergast, who gained notoriety as the judge who rewrote New Zealand history.

Prime Minister Helen Clark was the first elected female prime minister in New Zealand.

  1. 2.3 Implicit titles:

    Be a little careful. A title may still occasionally be capitalised when not directly referring to a person when it relates implicitly to the person with that particular title.

The key will be handed to the Prime Minister by the Queen's representative, and then Parliament is declared open.

The President walked into the White House and was immediately surrounded by photographers.