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Capital or capitol? Where should I go or what should I use? Do you encounter such questions often? If you do, then welcome to the club. We’re English language learners too and just like you, we too find homophones quite tricky.

Perhaps the fact that they sound the same makes it challenging at times to figure which one would go correctly with our sentence. Sometimes, when we’re writing in a flow, we even tend to mix up common words like would and wood.

We’re all in the same boat and as the saying goes, practice makes one perfect. We believe nothing can be better than practice polishing the language skills. This is why we have a wide collection of printable worksheets and workbooks that can help your child perfect his/her grammar concepts.

So, it is capital or capitol? Keep reading below for a detailed and clear explanation of the two words.

Capital or Capitol – Where should I start?

The two words are so close in spelling with only a single letter’s difference that anyone can forget which one denotes what. Hence, let’s catch the bull by the horns by first learning about the meaning of the two words.


This word has multiple definitions but primarily, it means the wealth or resources a person or a business owns. In fact, it may even mean the wealth or resources that a company, organization or firm employs for its operations.

Secondly, capital also means highly important or of principal value. Hence, you will often hear people using it in sentences like, “Safety of the students was the school management’s capital concern”.

Thirdly, capital also refers to uppercase letters in the language.

Then comes the capital that refers to a town or city that is a government’s official seat in a state or country. For example: Tokyo is the capital of Japan, as well as the economic and political center of the country.


Now here is where the main confusion lies and you must pay close attention. When you’re deciding whether to use capital or capitol, remember that capitol too has to do with the government and is a building of the state.

Capitol is a building that the state legislature occupies, such as the United States Capitol. You will find this state-building in Washington, DC, hosting the congress of the country’s federal government. The other reason why many cannot differentiate between the facts is their Latin origin.

The root word of capital or capitol is “caput” which means head. The word capital started evolving from this root, till it went on to mean wealth, of the head and principal status.

Capital or Capitol? Learning the Difference

The similarity of spellings with a bare letter difference is why many find it difficult to tell the two homophones apart. Like we keep stressing in our activities, memorizing a mnemonic trick is a great way to remember the difference for life.

You must take the letter O in the word capitol and associate it with “Only one” definition. Remember how we told you capital has multiple meanings but stated ‘only one’ for capitol? That is the trick to remember when using homophones in your writing.

The other mnemonic trick you can use for capital is to associate the A in it for ‘all the rest’. Easy isn’t it? And if you’ve got a great memory, you can also remember to associate the O in capitol with US building’s spherical dome.

It will please you to know that the real challenge only lies in remembering the difference between the words. Once you learn the difference in their spellings through mnemonic tricks, using them in sentences becomes fairly easy.

Want to have some practice?

1. We saw crowds of protestors lining up on the ___________ (capitol/capital) lawn the other day.


2. My five-year-old son can name the _________ (capitol/capital) of all the countries of the world.


3. The children have an upcoming quiz on state __________ (capitols/capitals) in the following week.


4. We are excited to work on the restoration of the historic ___________ (capitol/capital) with our team.


5. London is the most beautiful ____________ (capitol/capital) city of the world. You should plan a holiday there with your family.

Final Thoughts

Homophones can be very confusing, especially when we’re not sure about their different meanings. Often people use the wrong word instead when writing because of the confusion between meanings. So when you can’t decide whether to use capital or capitol, do recall the mnemonic tricks we have taught you.

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