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My suspicion is it provides more visual indication that a new sentence is starting, but it bothers me because I think a period / exclamation / question mark seems sufficient to me. Plus, if a proper noun begins the sentence, then it's not as obvious it's a proper noun. Are there any problems if the convention of capitalizing the first letter of each sentence were eliminated?

  • 2
    Nice detail 1: there's one exception where the second word of a Dutch sentence starts with a capital, instead of the first. 's Morgens ga ik naar kantoor (I go to office in the morning), because the sentence starts with an apostrophe. (The original is 'Des morgens ga ik naar kantoor', the apostrophe replaces the 'De'). The same applies for afternoons, nights, etc. – Sherlock Oct 30 '13 at 12:44
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    Nice detail 2: Dutch sentences starting with our unique digraph ij, have both letters capitalized. IJsland is een mooi land (Iceland is a nice country). – Sherlock Oct 30 '13 at 12:45
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You don't have to. It's just convention.


if i taip in all lower case and space and spel sum things funny thne its harder to read

But if I spell, capitalize, and punctuate the way you expect, it's a lot easier to read. Why? Because as a literate reader of English, you've practiced reading text that follows convention to the point where it's automatic. When you see taip, you stumble over it because it's unfamiliar; you haven't practiced reading it nearly as much as type. And the same thing is true of sentence boundaries that aren't marked by capitalization.

but of course, it's not a requirement. you can still tell where sentences begin and end as long as i use punctuation. the only time capitalization really makes a difference is when you capitalize (or fail to capitalize) a CAPITONYM--and even then, it's likely that you'll be understood. in fact, in some languages capital letters aren't used at all, so clearly it's possible to be understood without them. you could do away with them entirely, if you wanted.

But all the same, you should probably follow convention as a courtesy to the reader, unless you have a reason to do otherwise.

  • Not to mention making my day a little less irritating by writing sentences without "wrong" punctuation and minuscule personal pronoun I. – mplungjan Oct 30 '13 at 8:47
  • You seem to have demonstrated that consistent spelling is a good thing but do not demonstrate lack of capitalization after punctuation, which is what the question in asking afterall – jk. Oct 30 '13 at 10:23
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    I find the paragraph with capitalisation easier to read. What I really dislike, though, is the Style Where in a Title Almost All Words are Capitalised. Ugh! – gerrit Oct 30 '13 at 10:59
  • e.e. cummings would probably agree. – bib Oct 30 '13 at 11:35
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Personally, I do not think that there will be a huge impact if the convention on capitalizing the first word in a sentence were eliminated. I also agree with you that it exists maybe because there used to be a visual necessity to do so. However, if we imagine how Latin was used, without capitalization, and worse punctuations, I guess capitalization does not provide any harm.

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To distinguish it from another sentence. If you add a period at the beginning and one at the end, the sentence will look like a mess.

. come here.

Come here.

  • Then it affirms the visual necessity guess OP has put forward. – gelolopez Oct 30 '13 at 7:20
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As others before me already said, it is mostly for readability. If you look at Roman inscriptions - Romans wrote everything in capital letters and used often abbreviations - these are hard to read if you are not used to them.

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