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VocabularySpellingCity offers worksheets, games, videos, and teaching activities on capitonyms. Capitonyms are a great way to show students just how much capitalization matters, and matching or fill-in-the-blank games are a fun way to reinforce the lesson. Check out our variety of capitonym resources, each tailored to specific teaching strategies.

A capitonym is a word whose meaning changes based on whether or not it is capitalized.

Capitonyms can be nouns, verbs, or adjectives. Examples of pairs of capitonyms are:

  • Turkey (the country) and turkey (the bird)
  • China (the country) and china (as in porcelain)

Most often, capitonym pairs feature one word as a common noun and the other as a proper noun. Verbs can also be capitonyms. For instance:

  • March (the month) and march (to walk)

Capitonyms can also be adjectives, as in:

  • Titanic (the ship) and titanic (gigantic)

Sometimes, a capitonym doesn't change just in meaning, but also in pronunciation -- for example:

  • Mobile (the city in Alabama) is pronounced differently than a mobile phone.

A fun sentence like this one can help students appreciate the importance of proper capitalization:

  • A turkey may march in Turkey in May or March!

A further note on Capitonyms

Capitonyms are mostly a subset or variation on multiple meaning words or homonyms. They have the same spelling but different meanings. Of course, if one defines the spelling to include capitalization, capitonyms can be said to be sound-alike or homophones (different words with different spellings that sound-alike). Both of these categorizations are true in cases where the pair of capitonyms are pronounced the same. In the case of Mobile/mobile, there is the same spelling (unless one counts capitalization) but they are pronounced differently so they aren't sound-alikes. At the end of the day, this effort at defining and categorizing is a fun puzzle but more than a little esoteric.

VocabularySpellingCity also has useful information and lists of words for these other categories including:

Homonyms, or multiple meaning words, are words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. For example, bear.

  • A bear (the animal) can bear (tolerate) very cold temperatures.
  • The driver turned left (opposite of right) and left (departed from) the main road.

Homophones, also known as sound-alike words, are words that are pronounced identically although they have different spellings and meanings. These words are a very common source of confusion when writing. Common examples of sets of homophones include: to, too, and two; they're and their; bee and be; sun and son; which and witch; and plain and plane. VocabularySpellingCity is a particularly useful tool for learning to correctly use and spell the sound alike words.

Homographs, (also sometimes known as Heteronyms or Heterophones, have the same spelling, different pronunciations, different meanings. They are a subset of multiple meaning words which is generally a strong-point of VocabSpellingCity's functionality. Examples of homographs (same spelling, different pronunciation, different meaning):

  • Wind: I need to wind the alarm clock so I can fly my kite on in the early morning gusty wind.

  • Record: Please record the program when they try to beat the world record for word nerdiness.

  • Excuse: Please excuse this poor excuse for art.

  • Bass: I like to play my bass guitar, while my brother likes to fish for bass in the pond.

  • Bow: He took a bow after shooting my bow and arrow in the archery tournament.

  • Close: I was sitting very close to the open door, so the teacher asked me to close it for her.

  • Desert: We had to desert our broken down car and hike through the hot, dry desert to look for help.

Currently, VocabularySpellingCity provides great methods for teachers working with multiple meaning words for our word games. However, for the exercises where the word is said in isolation (most often, the spelling test), VocabularySpellingCity cannot have two pronunciations for two words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently. We are looking for possibilities in the future.

Capitonyms at a glance:

K - 2nd Grade Capitonyms: Queens, mohawk, earth, Earth, March, may, march, queens, May, Mohawk

3rd - 5th Grade Capitonyms: patriots, Phoenix, phoenix, turkey, Titanic, mercury, titanic, Mercury, Patriots, Turkey

6th - 8th Grade Capitonyms: jodhpur, mercury, Orient, Mobile, pentagon, Mercury, orient, Pentagon, Jodhpur, mobile

9th - 12th Grade Capitonyms: Manila, Platonic, Jodhpur, gasconade, jodhpur, Saskatoon, platonic, Gasconade, manila, saskatoon

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