When Does “North” Need a Capital Letter?

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Written by Lucy Williams

Spanish-to-English translator and translator trainer

Most of us learn the basics of capitalisation at school. We know to use a capital letter to start a sentence, for names and months, days of the week and so on. But when do you capitalise the word north?

Is it northern France or Northern France? Is the rule to do with points of the compass? Proper nouns? Test yourself with our quiz and you’ll find some hints and tips in the answer section!

Is the capitalisation of the word north or northern correct or incorrect?

1. He drove north towards Northern Ireland.

2. He lives in northern France.

3. This is becoming much more widespread in north Carolina.

4. Santa Claus lives in the north Pole.

5. It was filmed in northern Montana.

Scroll down for the answers

Answers to the quiz on when to capitalise north

1. Correct. Use lower case for compass directions (he drove north) but capitalise for regions, part of a proper name or to designate a politically divided nation (Northern Ireland).

2. Correct. Use lower case with parts of nations (unless part of a proper name or used to designate a politically divided nation).

3. Incorrect. Capitalise compass points when part of a proper name.

4. Incorrect. Capitalise when combining with another common noun to form the name for a region or location.

5. Correct. Use lower case when referring to a section of a state or city.

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