Ask the Editor
Serenity Carr, Assistant Editor
Are school subjects proper nouns or common nouns?
Friday June 5th 2020
Are school subjects proper nouns or common nouns and when should they be capitalized?  — Tanisha, India

School subjects are common nouns when used generally unless they are the name of a language. Names of specific classes or courses are proper nouns.

When you are talking about a school subject in a general way, you do not need to capitalize it unless it is the name of a language. For example, science, social studies, and math do not need to be capitalized, but German and Spanish do because languages are proper nouns.

When you are naming a specific class or course, such as Science 241 or Math 100, always capitalize it. Capitalize course titles such as "History of the United States" and "Elementary Physics."

The following example sentences show when to capitalize school subjects and course names, and when not to.

  • I'm taking geometry this semester.
  • He always loved both math and English.
  • She enrolled in two philosophy classes freshman year.
  • She studied psychology in college.
  • They had Spanish together for three semesters.
  • He took four college German classes.
  • She was really enjoying history.
  • She took Physics 502 as an undergrad.
  • His first semester in college he wanted to take Philosophy of Language, Math 256, and Educational Psychology.


I hope this helps.


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