I frequently edit questions on StackOverflow, and I always fix the "i" into "I".
See this edit revision for instance.

When i I start my tomcat, i I am getting this problem.
How could i I resolve this problem.

Am I right to do so?

Benjol points out an interesting thread illustrating that debate:

The point of text on a site like this is to communicate.
Why do you want to make it harder to communicate than it has to be?
You may like writing with no capitalization, but I think it's pretty clear that people prefer reading with capitalization.
If you don't care about making life easier for those trying to help you, why do you think anyone will bother helping you in the first place?

Readers of the modern English language have grown accustomed to certain norms. Paragraphs, for one. Punctuation. Consistent spelling. And, of course, capitalization.

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    it's ok to use i if your name is e e cummings. Sep 11, 2010 at 3:52
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    @mickeyf, I've commented my edits on StackOverflow with 'e e cummings would be proud' :) Also, see the comments on this answer on meta: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/53445/… (And see the edits on the question itself - hilarious!)
    – Benjol
    Sep 16, 2010 at 5:31
  • you are definitely right, see the link in my previous comment. It's seems to be mostly indians who write i, I'm not sure why.
    – Benjol
    Sep 16, 2010 at 5:34
  • @Benjol: thank you, I have added those links in my question.
    – VonC
    Sep 17, 2010 at 5:55
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    For more: english.stackexchange.com/questions/7986/…
    – VonC
    Jan 5, 2011 at 8:04

7 Answers 7


It is the standard orthography of English to capitalize the first person singular pronoun, as well as in contractions like I'm or I'll. This is not a universal property of written language, though—far from it.

Apparently the capitalization of I comes from England sometime before the time of Chaucer. The typographists of the day dictated this change; they thought that i (after being truncated from something more German-like "ich") was simply too small to stand on its own and bear so much meaning. Just goes to show how much of a technology writing really is.

  • 1
    Is there any "official" document referencing that convention and clarifying its usage?
    – VonC
    Aug 6, 2010 at 6:10
  • Nice detail to answer.
    – Jon Hadley
    Aug 6, 2010 at 8:57
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    That's funny, Slavic typographers didn't have any problems with one-letter words. For example, in Russian, there are a whopping ten such words: а, б, в, ж, и, к, о, с, у, and я, the last one meaning... I.
    – RegDwigнt
    Aug 22, 2010 at 19:49
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    @RegDwight: Perhaps because they (particularly Cyrillic typographers) had the advantage of adopting typesetting at a rather later date than the English? An even simpler reason may be that я is typographically a more complex letter than I.
    – Noldorin
    Aug 24, 2010 at 23:48
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    @malach: I thought that Sie was still capitalized (when referring to you, not they). May 18, 2011 at 15:29

The orthography is what the orthography is, and while there are many variations allowed in certain aspects, no serious authority supports abandoning the distinction between upper and lower case. So unless you are sticking with a rebellious all-lower case spelling, a lower case "i" is always wrong.

  • I agree, but I really like to know if there is some kind of "official" source that could explicitly recommend that usage.
    – VonC
    Aug 6, 2010 at 13:32
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    There is no "official" authority on the English language. Open up a dictionary that is recognized in your area, and it will surely list "I" as a pronoun, and so that's that. If you can find a dictionary that lists "i" as a pronoun or proclaims that capitalization does not matter, you can go with that, but that will be hard to find. :-) Perhaps no dictionary says, capitalization matters; I suppose that's implied. Aug 6, 2010 at 20:20
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    @VonC, there is no Academie Anglaise. That is why English is 'winning' (but that's a separate discussion :)
    – Benjol
    Sep 16, 2010 at 5:27
  • @Benjol I would like to hear that discussion.
    – Jonah
    Jul 15, 2022 at 22:16
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    @Jonah there might be just you and me then :) To my mind, the Academie Française and the culture which it comes from (and supports) discourages any innovation in less-than-glacial timespans. Whereas in English, if you have invented a thing, you get to invent its name as well. And the name that wins (and thus becomes 'right') is simply the one that gets adopted by the most people.
    – Benjol
    Jul 25, 2022 at 9:16

If you're looking for justification outside of a dictionary, there are countless style guidelines that will address the issue -- you'd think. I can't find much, at least not online.

"Me, Myself and I" -- New York Times article on this very question. (It comes to the same conclusion -- there's no real grammatical reason for capitalizing "I" aside from typography.)

  • 6
    It is so basic that Strunk and White doesn't even mention it, but every usage (see Chapter 1 Section 10) is capitalized. Aug 12, 2010 at 20:37
  • The article does discuss some of the history (hopefully, it's accurate here!), so I'm glad you linked it, but the claims in it about the psychological implications of capitalization are ridiculous. Some ESL students have the misimpression that it will come across as "humble" if they use capitalized "You" and lowercase "i"; it actually just looks illiterate, but reading that article might strengthen their misimpression. An example: english.stackexchange.com/questions/241207/…
    – herisson
    Aug 4, 2015 at 1:39

Well, it really depends on what you are writing. If you are writing something formal, or if you think your audience will care, then sure. If you are texting or IMing, or being much more casual, then it's really up to you whether you want to bother or not. Capitalization, like most orthography, is just a matter of convention.

  • Would writing in a public forum like SO qualify for a more formal writing convention in your opinion?
    – VonC
    Aug 6, 2010 at 6:09
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    I almost always capitalize "I", myself. But my general guideline is to write for your audience. If you think readers of SO will be annoyed with lowercase i, then that would be a good reason to capitalize it.
    – Alan Hogue
    Aug 6, 2010 at 6:24
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    StackOverflow is a site for Engineering and IT professionals, and students who aspire to be such, and as such they should act like professionals. Aug 12, 2010 at 20:32

The first-person pronoun should always be capitalized in English. Whether it is appropriate to correct others' mistakes in this regard is a question of etiquette, not grammar. :-)

  • 1
    I agree. But if you're editing it anyway, for another reason, it makes sense to fix it at the same time.
    – Hugo
    Oct 26, 2011 at 9:29

As everyone has said, and which I don't want to downplay, this is not acceptable in any formal writing, or even informal writing which is "public."

However, it's pretty common in electronic, informal, private writings, such as text messages, (non-work-related) e-mails, and online chats not to capitalize anything at all. (Principally the point is that holding the shift key is annoying.) Emphasis on electronic. It would be weird and pretentious-looking in anything you wrote by hand, even something informal, even just a casual note to a friend.

  • Principally the point is that holding the shift key is annoying I think they are for those who don't know ten fingers typing technique, that's why they find it difficult to press shift key, not for Stack Overflow people who are programmers (almost 90% people know touch typing). Oct 7, 2022 at 15:20

My English teacher taught that as with any first letter of the first word of any sentence, "I" too is capitalized, and its contraction "I'll" the same. However, inside the sentence lower-case is acceptable. EX: (A) "I'll see you at 6pm." (B) "John, while you're getting the BBQ ready, i'll go for a jog in the park." This applies to "i'm" and "myself" which are only capitalized when they're the first word of a sentence.

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    I’m afraid your so-called English teacher didn’t know what they were talking about. There is no occasion under which the personal pronoun “I” can be written in lowercase, whether in contraction or not, whether in the middle of the sentence or not.
    – tchrist
    Aug 2, 2013 at 2:47
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    @tchrist is correct. (Unless you are a cockroach operating Don Marquis’ typewriter.)
    – MetaEd
    Aug 2, 2013 at 2:58
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    Stylistic contrivances and poetry are the only exceptions I've seen where the person pronoun "I" is lowercase.
    – Tony
    Aug 18, 2014 at 22:13
  • @tchrist Most of the school English teachers literally don't know much about these things unlike English Language & Usage people know ;) Oct 7, 2022 at 15:23

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