Is High School Capitalized in English?

Capitalization rules in English can be very complicated, and “high school” is one compound word that often gets incorrectly capitalized. So, is high school capitalized, and if so, when is it okay to capitalize it?

Contrary to popular belief, high school is a compound word that is, when used generally, not capitalized. However, there are certain situations where you need to capitalize it. These situations are when high school is being used as a proper noun. For example, if the high school has a name (i.e. John Smith High School), then you have to capitalize it.

The rest of this article will cover when high school is capitalized, and when it isn’t capitalized.

When To Capitalize High School

There are plenty of words in English that are, in general, not capitalized. College, aunt, uncle, university, and high school are all examples of this. However, when they become proper nouns, that’s when you can capitalize them.

To put it simply, high school is capitalized when it is being used as a title. A proper noun is exactly what it sounds like: a noun that names a specific item, place, or person. High schools fall under that category. If the high school has a name, it becomes a proper noun.

For example, look at the other words that aren’t capitalized unless they’re a proper noun (college, aunt, uncle, and university). When they’re being used in general, they’re lowercase. If they have a specific item attached to them, they’re proper.

Some examples include: Binghamton University, New York University, Aunt Carol, Uncle Bob, and Emerson College.

When Not To Capitalize High School

The easiest way to tell when you shouldn’t capitalize high school is to look at the context it’s being used in. Context is vital to the English language for more than just the capitalization rules. However, context is especially important for the compound word “high school”.

Like the previous section said, high school only gets capitalized when it’s being used as a proper noun. When you’re using the compound word as a general statement to describe high schools, then you don’t need to capitalize it.

For example, take a look at this sentence: “Kara just started high school”. There’s no need to capitalize the words “high school” because there’s no specific high school mentioned, therefore it’s not a proper noun and not a title that needs capitalization.