Capital vs. Capitol: What’s the difference and how to remember it

Homophones (words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings) can be confusing in the English language. Although these words have similar pronunciations, they have different purposes in writing.

In this article, we’ll understand the difference between “capital” and “capitol,” along with handy tips for their proper use.

Difference Between Capital and Capitol

The primary difference between “capital” and “capitol” lies in their meanings and usage. “Capital” has several meanings and can function as both a noun and an adjective, while “capitol” is strictly a noun with a more specific use.

Using the Word “Capital”

The word “capital” can be used in various contexts:

  • As a noun:

A city that serves as the seat of government for a country or region.

For example, Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States.

Wealth in the form of money or assets.

For example, “The company needs more capital to expand its operations.”

  • As an adjective:

Uppercase letters

For example, “Please use a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence.”

Main or most important

For example, “The capital reason for the meeting is to discuss the budget.”

Using the Word Capitol

The word “capitol” refers specifically to a building where a legislative body meets.

For example, “The U.S. Capitol is located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.”

Tips to Remember Both Words Effectively

Remembering the difference between “capital” and “capitol” can be tricky. Here are some tips to help:

  1. Think of the “o” in capitol as representing the dome of a capitol building. This visual cue can help you remember that “capitol” refers to a building where lawmakers meet.
  2. Associate “capital” with a variety of meanings. Since “capital” has more diverse uses, linking it to multiple contexts (like cities, money, and letters) can help reinforce its diverse applications.

Test Your Understanding

Test your understanding with this quick quiz on “capital” vs. “capitol”:

  1. The __________ of California is Sacramento.
  2. The company’s __________ investment increased last year.
  3. You need to start each sentence with a __________ letter.
  4. We visited the __________ building during our tour.

Understanding the difference between “capital” and “capitol” can prevent common writing errors and improve clarity in your communication.

However, writers can consider using tools like Trinka Grammar Checker and AI Writing Assistant to avoid unintentional errors in writing.

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