The Grammarphobia Blog

Seasonal disorder

Q: I’ve recently noticed that the names of seasons are not being capitalized. Is this something new? Or was I just absent the day it was discussed in school? I see on WikiAnswers that a season should be capitalized when paired with a noun (e.g., “Spring semester”). What do you say?

A: Beware what you find on reference wikis! Collaborative websites are only as good as their collaborators. Some contributors are good and some aren’t. In this case, you can forget the advice.

In contemporary English usage, the names of seasons are not capitalized, even if used adjectivally (as in “spring semester” or “fall harvest”).

The exception, of course, would be (as WikiAnswers notes) when the word comes at the beginning of a sentence.

You can find evidence for this in many usage guides, including Garner’s Modern American Usage and The Chicago Manual of Style (look under “capitalization”), as well as in dictionaries (look up the entries for the individual seasons).

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