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He chanted "activate" to activate his powers.

or

He chanted "Activate" to activate his powers.

This question is specifically for short phrases, not entire sentences.

  • 1
    No, the quotations are there to separate the word from the rest of the sentence. – Weather Vane Apr 30 at 18:30
  • For example, see quotations. – MikeJRamsey56 Apr 30 at 19:02
  • Your words are not part of sentences, so unless they are titles or names (proper nouns), they should be in lowercase. – Jason Bassford May 1 at 10:23
  • @JasonBassford But what if it could be a sentence in its own right, such as "With a brief 'game over, kid' she left the room." Would you capitalise in this case? – otah007 May 1 at 22:36
  • You always capitalize the first letter of the first word of any actual sentence, in narrative or dialogue. But in With a brief "game over, kid" she left the room, "game over, kid" is not a sentence. However, in She said, "Game over kid," and left the room, "Game over kid" is a sentence—because the dialogue tag is being used. The context determines if it's just a phrase, a sentence, or something actually descriptive. (The sign read Do not enter.) – Jason Bassford May 2 at 4:58

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