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In the book, "The Crystal Shard," by R.A. Salvatore, a character is surnamed "de Bernezan." Which of the following complete sentences uses the correct English-language capitalization:

  • de Bernezan entered the room.
  • De Bernezan entered the room.

The Wikipedia page on "de Vries" capitalized "De Vries" as a standalone, but writes "Marc de Vries" when using the full name.

Edits in response to comments:

  • The book starts sentences as "de Bernezan," which seems incorrect. Hence my question.
  • The Wikipedia page is neither authoritative nor clear. It seems to refers to "De Vries" as the correct capitalization of the surname, except when actually used as a surname. Since I am not Dutch, I do not know how their names work, especially when used in an English-language context. Again, hence my question.
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    And why is that not your answer? – bib Jul 18 '14 at 23:40
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    The rule is: capitalize words when they start a sentence. The only exception I know of is Dutch names that start with 't. – Peter Shor Jul 18 '14 at 23:46
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    In fact the book itself is likely to answer the question. – RegDwigнt Jul 18 '14 at 23:49
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    From my edits above in response to comments: The book's capitalization is "de Bernezan," which seems incorrect. Since the author (presumably) knows more about language than I do, I thought I'd seek some kind of definitive reference here to resolve the question. – Xuor Jul 18 '14 at 23:57
  • One of our regular contributors here is @oerkelens, a native speaker of Dutch (if I am not mistaken). Perhaps he will explain how this issue is handled. – Erik Kowal Jul 19 '14 at 3:55
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Fortunately, The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition) deals with this question on page 388:

8.5 Names with particles. Many names include particles such as de, d', de la, von, van, and ten. Practice with regard to capitalization and spacing the particles varies widely, and confirmation should be sought in a biographical dictionary or other authoritative source. When the surname is used alone, the particle is usually retained, capitalized or lowercased and spaced as in the full name (though always capitalized when beginning a sentence). [emphasis added]

So, following Chicago, the correct sentence is, "De Bernezan entered the room."

The variation in capitalization you found on the De Vries Wikipedia page is explained by the Chicago rule for Dutch names used in an English context (page 390):

8.10 Dutch names. In English usage, the particles van, van den, ter, and the like are lowercased when full names are given but usually capitalized when only the last name is used.

Johannes van Keulen; Van Keulen

Pieter van den Keere; Van den Keere

Vincent van Gogh; Van Gogh

Gerard ter Borch; Ter Borch

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The case of a reference list of an academic paper will be covered in my answer. (Sorry, not directly relevant to the OP, but this question is redirected here.)

APA Style says, according to APA Style Blog: How to Capitalize Author Names in APA Style, in a reference list, lowercase is retained:

de Haan, A. D., Deković, M., & Prinzie, P. (2012). Longitudinal impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 189–199. doi:10.1037/a0025254

APA Style agrees with the Chicago Manual for the sentence beginning. After a colon capitalization is necessary, too. Thus:

  • De Haan, Deković, and Prinzie (2012) studied the impact of parental and adolescent personality on parenting.
  • Recently, researchers have explored the impact of personality on parenting: De Haan, Deković, and Prinzie (2012) used longitudinal analyses to untangle the effects.

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