When referring to the "politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory" in lieu of the proper name, should state be capitalized?


He will liaise with State and local governmental regulatory departments.


1 Answer 1


There seems to be a fairly free choice. Certainly, any prescriptive 'rule' claimed to hold here would doubtless be challenged ... a capital to signify esteem, or a lowercase letter to show non-specificity.

The White House chooses:

  • Powers not granted to the Federal government are reserved for States and the people, which are divided between State and local governments.

Whereas USA.gov uses

  • Find contact information for state and local government services, your governor, and more.

And likewise IRS:

  • Find tax information for federal, state and local government entities

Indeed, lower-case seems by far the more common choice.

  • (1) The choice exists because state in the US contexts, can be thought of as either a common noun (as it generaly is), or a proper name of sorts (one of the United States). (2) The word is capitalised in the Constitution, and is thus often capitalised in the texts that echo the Constitution (note that the White House quotation paraphrases the Tenth Amendment). (3) The quotations in this answer are about states/States generally, while in the OP's example the word is used 'in lieu of the proper name' (presumably of one particular state).
    – jsw29
    Jul 26, 2023 at 18:56

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