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Do you have to capitalize a question that is after a comma? Example:

I'm not hungry, why do I have to eat?


The sentence are formed by dependent clauses with the next structure:

Situation, question about the situation.

More examples:

They have a luxury car, are they rich?

If I don't study, will I pass the exam?

I'm sure you received my letter, why didn't you answer me?

My question is: the words "are", "will" and "why" have to be capitalized?

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I know of no such rule in English. Is this perhaps a rule in your own language? – GEdgar Apr 23 '13 at 18:46
Nope you don't have to. You might want to check these resources for further reading: grammarbook.com/punctuation/capital.asp and learnenglish.de/grammar/questiontext.htm – camelbrush Apr 23 '13 at 19:21
I am not aware of such a rule in any language, not just English. If you saw this somewhere, please specify where exactly and in which context. And if you never saw this anywhere, then you shouldn't be inventing it. – RegDwigнt Apr 23 '13 at 20:08
It is however important to separate independent clauses by something other than a comma. Here, a colon, a semi-colon, or a dash are fine - or two sentences. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 23 '13 at 20:42
Only the second of your three further examples avoids a comma splice; according to Wikipedia, "Although acceptable in some languages and compulsory in others, comma splices are usually considered style errors in English." See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma_splice . You're asking for guidance about rules. It's being offered. Your second (further) example is quite acceptable: If I don't study, will I pass the exam? This is because one of the clauses is dependent. A capital should not be used for will. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 23 '13 at 21:04
up vote 0 down vote accepted

In American English, you may capitalize a question (or any independent clause) after a colon but not a comma:

They have a luxury car: Are they rich?

I'm sure you received my letter: Why didn't you answer me?

Also, the comma splice is a style error in English: Prefer semicolons, colons, or periods for joining independent clauses.

share|improve this answer
What you've written isn't wrong, but there is some room for interpretation on the to capitalize, or not to capitalize question (when following a colon, that is). More about that here, here, and here. – J.R. Apr 23 '13 at 23:48
Interesting, thanks! I'll update my answer. – Bradd Szonye Apr 24 '13 at 0:01

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