Writing for Business

Jul 3 2012   5:07PM GMT

Do you capitalize “fourth” in the “fourth of July”?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
On the ____________ in 2009, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks targeted United States government websites.
a. Fourth of July

b. fourth of July

Answer: a.


In the U.S., writers capitalize “fourth” in “Fourth of July” because it’s a special date. Although the official name of the holiday is “Independence Day,” we capitalize “fouth” to identify it with the holiday, so readers realize it has some significance. In this case, hackers thought it would be an especially swell day to attack a government website.

Of course, you only capitalize the Fourth if you’re either writing for a U.S. audience or making some reference to the U.S. holiday. We would capitalize in this case wherever we were because it’s significant that the attackers chose Independence Day to target government websites. If we were writing for, say, a British audience about some unrelated event that just happened to take place on the fourth of July, we would not capitalize “fourth.”

Here’s a little joke I stole from BigMitch:

Q: Do they have the Fourth of July in England?

A: No, they just go straight from the third to the fifth.

End of joke, as my mom would say: Laugh here.

Admittedly, Big Mitch’s blog isn’t really about writing. If you’re looking for more grammar, here are some additional capitalization rules.


Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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