Is English the only language where "I" is always capitalized, no matter where it occurs in a sentence? The other two languages that I'm familiar with don't do this.

In German, "ich" is only capitalized at the start of a sentence; the same is true for "yo" in Spanish.

If English is unique in this regard, or even if among a subset of languages that do this, is there a historical reason behind it? A philosopical or cultural one, or...???

  • 3
    But in English, we also capitalize nationalities and languages.
    – Tim Ward
    Jan 11, 2016 at 21:35
  • 2
    I have two suspicions which cannot be verified due to the nature of human existence and our documented history. First, the capital I just looks better on the written page and is easier to see from a visual pattern perspective. Second, I expect the writs from Her or His Majesty may have influenced the practices and patterns of all English speakers, and I'm sure the Royalty would never reduce their personal pronouns to lowercase. ;)
    – Tim Ward
    Jan 11, 2016 at 21:47
  • 2
    @TimWard: but influence from royal spelling would tend to apply to capitalized "We," I'd assume.
    – herisson
    Jan 11, 2016 at 23:13
  • 2
    I'm curious why there are two down-votes on this question..
    – Insane
    Jan 12, 2016 at 3:37
  • 2
    @Chenmunka: No, it's a question about English and other languages, but focuses on English. Jan 12, 2016 at 15:30

3 Answers 3


English is at the least very lonely in this stance. We may very well be the only language that does capitalize the first person singular pronoun. Here's some reading to keep you busy.

Why Do We Capitalize I?

Only English Speakers Capitalize 'I,' But That Doesn't Mean We're Obsessed With Ourselves

Me, Myself and I

Why Do We Capitalize “I”?


I think the reason is very simple. If you write "i" it is so small a letter that often it can happen you fail to see it, especially in fast handwriting when the dot is often neglected. " I" has nothing to do with philosophy or culture or an overestimated ego.

To my knowledge, and I have looked into about 25 to 30 languages just to understand their system and mainly to better see how I learn a foreign language English is the only language that uses "I" instead of "i" just for better readability.

  • Latin doesn't have subject pronouns (Veni, vidi, vici), so we can't blame the Romans.
    – WS2
    Jan 12, 2016 at 0:21
  • @WS2: Ego, tu, nos, vos,
    – Henry
    Jan 12, 2016 at 0:40
  • 1
    @WS2 it has them, it just doesn't use them as much as English does. In this respect it is similar to Spanish (unsurprisingly).
    – phoog
    Jan 12, 2016 at 0:49
  • @phoog But are they used as subjects? It is more than half a century since I studied Latin!
    – WS2
    Jan 12, 2016 at 0:53
  • @WS2 yes. They're subject pronouns after all. They are used for emphasis or contrast, for example. Ego te video et tu me vidis.
    – phoog
    Jan 12, 2016 at 14:38

This is not so much a question about English, but more about every language other than English.

German, for example, capitalizes Sie, when it is used as a formal "you". Traditionally, Du is also capitalized, especially in correspondence. Is that the "same" as in English? Is there a rationale for any of these orthographic conventions? Does this superficial trait tell you anything useful about the languages that happen to share these quirks? You decide.

  • 1
    So it's interesting that in German words referencing others are sometimes capitalized ("Sie" und "Du"), but the one used to reference oneself ("ich") only at the beginning of a sentence. Jan 12, 2016 at 0:38
  • As a German I can say that in a letter to a very dear person "Du" is an expression of respect, estimation and politeness. "Sie" as address for one or several persons is a differention of "sie". My sister (sie), the people (sie). So German has three different "sie".
    – rogermue
    Jan 12, 2016 at 1:09

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