I'm seeing that I get a red squiggle under the words asian and european. When I right-click either, it wants to capitalize the word. I wouldn't think a general type of thing gets capitalized, such as "evergreen tree", a type of tree, versus "Blue Spruce", a specific type. I would think I need to capitalize "Chinese" or "German" or "American", but not the broader types of "Asian" or "European".


3 Answers 3


All proper nouns need to be capitalized. I believe you are puzzled over whether "Asian" is a proper noun or not. I don't see why not. We need to define what a proper noun is:

A proper noun or proper name is a noun representing a unique entity (such as London, Jupiter, John Hunter, or Toyota), as distinguished from a common noun, which represents a class of entities (or nonunique instance[s] of that class)—for example, city, planet, person or corporation).

Now, I believe you think that "Asian" is too broad a noun to be called a proper noun, because it seems to represent a class of entities, that is, a group of various people, such as Spanish, French, etc.

Does that mean, however, that we shouldn't capitalize "Europe", but should just write it as "europe"? Of course not. "Europe" still refers to a specific place, a continent, and "Europeans" refer to a specific people, the people that come from Europe. And there's only one group of people that comes from Europe, the Europeans.

  • Asia is a proper noun; Asian is a proper adjective.
    – TRiG
    Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 22:14

When using 'Asian' as an adjective, yes, it is capitalized based on the following logic:

"In general, an adjective is capitalized if its meaning is "pertaining to X", where X is some specific person, place, language, or organized group. Most capitalized adjectives are derived from proper nouns; for example, the proper adjective American is derived from the proper noun America."

In this case, Asian and European are proper adjectives, and are therefore capitalized.

  • Can you provide the source of the quote? Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 17:53

Europe and Asia are the proper names of continents. It doesn't matter how general the term is, they are all humans but that isn't the name of the species so isn't capitalised. Homo-Sapiens is the species proper name so is capitalised.

  • The same as tree -> evergreens -> Blue Spruce I would have thought it would be humans -> asians -> Chinese or humans -> euopean -> Germans. Generally set -> sub-set -> specific type. I could see globe -> continents -> Asian.
    – Justin808
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 20:53
  • 4
    It's Homo sapiens: genus is capitalised; species is not. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binomial_nomenclature
    – CesarGon
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 22:21
  • @CesarGon - opps, not quite sapiens enough !
    – mgb
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 22:23
  • @Martin Beckett: :-)
    – CesarGon
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 22:28

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