February 23, 2024

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Why is “I” always capitalized in English?

Why is “I” always capitalized in English?

Each language has specific rules regarding pronouns. In French, they can be written in lowercase or capitalize the first letter if it begins a sentence. In the English language, the rule is almost the same, with one exception. In fact, regardless of its place in a sentence, the pronoun “I” (ie “me”) should be capitalized. The importance of this rule is that it has been included in the basic principles of language learning since the 1700s. However, the choice of this spelling is not due to a grammatical rule, but a purely aesthetic choice. To understand this, we have to go back to the 13th century.

All the books produced then were hand written. However, writing a lowercase “i” can be confusing when reading. Depending on how it's written, it can be confused with other things like a linking word or punctuation. To make a real difference when writing the English pronoun “I”, a text is requested to draw a big line (i.e. a capital I) when referring to the pronoun “I”. But it was really the year 1474 that marked a turning point in the application of this rule. That year, William Caxton published the first work in English With the help of a printing press. And the advent of the machine raises the question of whether this rule should be retained or not. But actually he (…)

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