When should I capitalize north, west, south, east, northwest, southeast (excetra, excetra)?

1 Answer

The nouns for directions (north, south, east, west, northeast, southwest, etc.) are common nouns. These nouns capitalized when they are the first word in a sentence.


A common noun is a general word for any person, place, or thing. These nouns for directions are general words for any of these directions.

The nouns for directions are also capitalized when they are functioning as a proper noun. A proper noun is the name or title of a specific person, place, or thing.

Examples of common nouns and proper nouns:
I live in the southeast part of the state. (common noun, a general direction)
North of the bank is a parking lot. (common noun, capitalized as the first word in the sentence)
We're heading south for our vacation. (common noun, a general word for a direction)

My dentist is Dr. Robert West . (proper noun, the name of a person)
We're from North Carolina. (proper noun, the name of a place)
There's a branch of Southwest Bank in the mall. (proper noun, the name of a thing).