Is incorrect capitalization, such as the lowercase "i" in

[Can] i [this sic] have an if statement within a dialog box code?

considered a spelling mistake, or some other type of error?

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    +1 for the Star Wars meme but -1 for making your question really hard to interpret d-; – hippietrail May 20 '11 at 8:21
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    Strictly speaking writing the personal pronoun "I" as "i" is NOT a spelling mistake but it is still a writing mistake, which many speakers of foreign languages make. For example, in Italian the equivalent pronoun, io, is always written in small. So, "i" is not necessarily a typo or laziness, it could very well be a "language interference" mistake. – Mari-Lou A Jun 6 '13 at 7:00

Your question was," Is it a spelling mistake?" The answer is definitely no. It is a grammatical error, a capitalization error, but not a spelling error. When you capitalize a word, you don't change its spelling.

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    Calling this a grammatical error is kind of inexact and improper. – Alenanno May 20 '11 at 10:22
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    Grammar is the study of the syntax and morphology of sentences as well as the features and characteristics in the sentences. Surely capitalization is a characteristic in the sentences – Thursagen May 20 '11 at 10:33
  • You're right, it's included, I was slightly wrong. But still, it's too general. If we think like that, everything can be a grammatical error... So it remains inexact, no? – Alenanno May 20 '11 at 10:38
  • Nearly... except for things that aren't errors. – Thursagen May 20 '11 at 10:39
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    Grammar is a property of language. Language is naturally occurring spoken or signed human communication. Writing is a recently invented technology to encode natural human language into more permanent markings. Language does not have upper and lower case, those concepts only apply to the technology of writing. When to use capital letters is not grammar, it is orthography - correct writing. – hippietrail Jun 6 '13 at 4:38

I can almost guarantee that different people will answer this both "yes" and "no".

As a Wiktionary contributor I've found some people can be quite forceful in their insistence that spelling applies only to letters and not to capitalization, hyphens, apostrophes, or to the characters in Chinese or Japanese for that matter.

On the other hand you will find many many sentences like this if you search:

  • Do you spell Southwest with a capital w?
  • I spell my God's name with a capital “G”.
  • They are beginning to be aesthetic, like the rest of the world, beginning to spell truth with a capital T.
  • The Atman of Shankara is here spelled with a capital “A” while that of Buddha is spelled with a small “a.”

So it is clear that many people do use the word “spell” to cover use of capital letters.

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    An Austrian acquaintance once complained about someone's bad spelling. When I asked for examples, the first he gave was frequent failure to capitalize nouns. – phoog Mar 8 '17 at 4:09

Usually spelling refers to putting the right letters in the right order. Other niceties, such as capitalisation, fall under the more general term of orthography, which includes spelling and other aspects of correct writing.


EDIT: I'll improve my answer, starting with my comment:

I think it can be categorised differently. If you know it must be capitalised, it might be a simple typo... If you don't know it, then you could consider it an orthographic error.

Orthography has this origin:

[taken from NOAD] - ORIGIN: late Middle English, via Old French and Latin from Greek orthographia, from orthos ‘correct’ + -graphia ‘writing.’

Spelling is a part of Orthography, linguistically speaking, but as you can see here, "other elements of the field of orthography are hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, and punctuation".

I think it's what you were looking for.

N.B. Previous answer deleted as it didn't fit the question.

  • Unlike "Do you advocate the overthrow of the United States government by force or subversion?", this was meant to be multiple choice, not yes/no. – Andrew Grimm May 20 '11 at 8:21
  • Multiple choice? As in "which cases you allow I to be lowercase"? – Alenanno May 20 '11 at 8:22
  • I'm asking is it a spelling error, or is it a different type of error? – Andrew Grimm May 20 '11 at 8:22
  • I think it can be categorised differently. If you know it must be capitalised, it might be a simple typo... If you don't know it, then you could consider it an orthographic error (I'm not sure it's the same as spelling, but I guess so). Was this what you wanted to know? If not, please be more specific either here on the comments or edit your question. – Alenanno May 20 '11 at 8:25
  • @Andrew Grimm: I corrected the answer. I guess I misunderstood your question. :) – Alenanno May 20 '11 at 8:47

We never say, "We grammar a word with a capital letter" because grammar isn't an action word. We do say, "We spell a word with a capital letter" because spell is an action we do when writing. If we make an error doing something, then that action is said to be in error. In this case that would be "spell." This is why we say this is a "spelling error."

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    By "action word" did you mean "verb"? – phoog Mar 8 '17 at 4:11
  • Phoog, are you trying to make points by commenting? It should be clear I am making a point that the action of spelling is what is done wrong, and not a rule of Grammar which only describes the action of spelling. We can violate a rule, but that violation here is spelling it wrong. We don't do a rule wrong, but we do an action wrong which in this case is spelling. – Leslie May 7 '17 at 4:07

Is incorrect capitalization considered a spelling error? Capitalization is something done while writing, and orthography is the method of spelling words in a printed form. Since Orthography is the method we use to write words, then, other than by accident or ignorance, incorrect capitalization would be considered spelling error. This is because Orthography defines spelling as it is written, but not as it is spoken.

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    Isn't "spelling as it is spoken" an oxymoron? – herisson Nov 18 '16 at 22:01
  • You can spell a word verbally which isn't what is being asked. – Leslie Nov 19 '16 at 0:46
  • This is less of an answer than an opinion. You cite no sources, but rather give your interpretation of how orthography relates to capitalization. The help page on how to write a useful answer is an important resource for new users: english.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer – Katherine Lockwood Nov 19 '16 at 3:51
  • Let us define a few words: – Leslie Nov 19 '16 at 4:57
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    Also every spelling reference, like the dictionary or spell check, shows the correct spelling with capital letters, when required, which means this is a spelling error if done incorrect. – Leslie Nov 19 '16 at 5:40

Here, capitalization error is listed under:

    "common grammatical errors"

And not in spelling errors, but i found somewhere it's also an independent category of error. I think both supposed to be correct.

  • 2
    No, this is wrong. Capitalization is not about grammar. – tchrist Nov 18 '16 at 22:11

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