This question already has an answer here:

I'm trying to cite someone in a paper I'm writing whose name is "[First-name] de Soya". In my field it's common to cite papers using the "et al." style ("In their seminal paper, de Soya et al. […] present…"), however, "de Soya" is opening the sentence.

In that case, should I write "de Soya et al. […]" or "De Soya et al. […]"

marked as duplicate by sumelic, Nigel J, Mari-Lou A, choster, jimm101 Nov 29 '17 at 19:50

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • If I'm not mistaken, it's normal for the first letter of sentences to be capitalized in languages where this could occur (e.g. "Von Neumann isst" not "von Neumann isst" in German). – Maroon May 14 '15 at 13:15
  • To be complete, see my answer to the "duplicate" target question. In short, lowercase is retained in a reference list. – teika kazura Sep 8 '18 at 0:00

If you absolutely cannot reword the sentence to put the name somewhere else, then, yes, you need to capitalize de Soya.

Sentences always need capital first letters. However, an extremely special case is a sentence beginning with a word such as iTunes. The lowercase i is allowed because the very next letter is capitalized. This creates a slight gray area in terms of where the capital letter has to be in the first word, but it's a rule nonetheless.


In the case of a pen name (such as bell hooks for example), it seems acceptable to use it as such at the beginning of a sentence. ("bell hooks wrote her reflections on liberatory pedagogies...", S. Mitchem, Journal of Women and Religion, 1999). It's not the last name however, but the entire name.



yes, it should be capitalized regardless of the origin of the last name. if possible then you should try to reword the sentence so you do not have to do that.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.