General Writing and Grammar Help/Capitalization question

Advertisement


Question
Hi.

I am doing some editing for a project, and am having some trouble determining if certain terms should be capitalized or not.

Terms like "Heavy Graser", "Plasma Cannon", "Graser", "Gatling Battery", "Meson Projector", etc.

The research I did seemed to suggest that they should be considered common nouns, but seeing the words in all lower cases (like "plasma cannon", "gatling battery", "meson projector") really seems wrong to me.  But it has been many years since I have been in school and dealt with English grammar in any formal way. :)

Can you advise me?

Thank you very much.

Answer
I would be delighted to advise you!

When common nouns are used to identify something specific, they are capitalized.

I saw the queen open Parliament.
I saw Queen Elizabeth open Parliament.

You have some common nouns that generally are not but also a man's name (Gatling), which is always capitalized.

In the context here, the common nouns are used to designate specific weapons (I'm going to assume they're weapons!), so all the names should be capitalized (including Gatling, but for a different reason!).

As you have written them in the 3rd paragraph is perfect!
mb

General Writing and Grammar Help

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Martha Beth Lewis

Expertise

I will answer questions having to do with grammar, plurals, punctuation, capitalization, mood, person, tense, and so on, as well as word usage and word choice. If you want a quick answer to a specific question, particularly if you wish to use formal American English for business or academic purposes (MLA), I can give you a timely response. I also can address word choice, clarity, structure, and similar concerns involving English as a second language. If you want advice of a deeper editorial nature (e.g., substantive [line] editing), please consult an Expert who offers this sort of assistance; I do not offer this sort of assistance.

Experience

I was employed as an editor for the graduate school at a major U.S. university and specialized in dissertations. I have over 200 publications in professional journals, consumer magazines, and newspapers. I am the author of five books and numerous syllabi in an arts field. I also am a freelance line editor, copy editor, and proofreader (over 40 years), and I have written or edited countless community organizations' newsletters and promotional materials.

Organizations
Note: When using a word as a word in a sentence, such as: Put a period after the word dog, =dog= should be set in italics. Since I do not have access to italics here, I shall use = on either side of the word or phrase that properly should appear in italics. For the above example: Put a period after the word =dog=. Also, ~~please do not mark your questions as private~~. I will change them to public because I don't want to type the same answer twice! Thanks for your understanding.

Publications
If you submit a question to other Experts or the pool, I'd appreciate it if you would >>NOT<< submit it to me, also. It's like asking several people out on a date and choosing among those who said yes! This implies my time and particular expertise are worth nothing to you. I want to spend my time responding to those who find my qualifications germane to their question. Remember: I'm a volunteer!

Education/Credentials
Education B.A., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa Ph.D.

Awards and Honors
I ask that you >>COME BACK TO READ MY RESPONSE<<. I've taken time to write the best response I can, so you should come back to read it! It's disheartening to respond to a question, only to see later that the person has not bothered to come back. Remember: I'm a volunteer!

Past/Present Clients
I am happy to help you - that's why I volunteered - but please remember I *am* a volunteer and extend me normal courtesies, such as no multiple submissions and not bothering to come back for your answer. mb

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.