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November 07,2013

Is It Sometimes Okay to Begin a Sentence With a Lowercase Letter?

Tyler

by Tyler Krupa

A basic grammar rule is that the first word in a complete sentence should be capitalized.But do you know how to proceed when a name that begins with a lowercase letter begins a sentence?Or whether it is okay to begin a sentence with a lowercase statistical term (e.g.,ttest orpvalue)?

Although the two examples listed above seem to be exceptions to the rule that the first word in a sentence should be capitalized,this is not the case.Note that per 万博手机官网APA Style,the first word in a complete sentence should always be capitalized.

So what should you do when you come across the above examples in your writing?Getting it right is simple as long as you remember the following two guidelines (see sections 4.14 and 4.30 in the sixth edition of thePublication Manual):

1.If a name that begins with a lowercase letter begins a sentence,then it should be capitalized.

2.Do not begin a sentence with a lowercase statistical term (e.g.,ttest orpvalue),a lowercase abbreviation (e.g.,lb),or a symbol that stands alone (e.g.,α).

To help illustrate the first guideline,let's look at the following example:

Correct:

Van Morrison and Smith (2012) interviewed 100 participants...

Incorrect:

van Morrison and Smith (2012) interviewed 100 participants...

In the example above,even though the usual presentation of the surnamevan Morrisonbegins with a lowercasev,it is correct to capitalize the first letter of the surname when the name begins a sentence.However,note that if the surnamevan Morrisonis used later in the sentence or in references/万博手机版登录citations,then the lowercasevis retained (e.g.,At the conclusion of the participant interviews,van Morrison and Smith...).For more information on how to correctly capitalize author names,see the followingpostto our blog.

Now let's look at an example that illustrates the second guideline:

Correct:

We usedttests to determine...

Incorrect:

ttests were used to determine...

Incorrect:

tTests were used to determine...

Incorrect:

Ttests were used to determine...

Note that in the example above,it is not okay to capitalize the statistical term at the beginning of the sentence because doing so changes the meaning of the statistic.Therefore,in instances such as these,it is necessary to recast the sentence.However,note that it is okay to begin a sentence with a capitalized statistical term (e.g.,Ftests indicated that...).For more information on how to format statistics in your paper,see the followingpostto our blog.

We hope these examples clear up this point of possible uncertainty.Still have questions?Leave us a comment.

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