Capital vs. Capitol: When to Use Capitol vs. Capital with Examples

When we talk about the words “capital” and “capitol,” it’s common to find ourselves in a bit of a mix-up. Despite their similar spellings and pronunciations, these terms have distinct meanings that are important to distinguish in writing and speech. We can think of “capital” as a versatile word that serves both as a noun and an adjective, while “capitol” has a more specific role as a noun.

Capital vs. Capitol: What is the Difference?

CAPITAL vs. CAPITOL

Capital vs. Capitol: Key Takeaways

“Capital” and “Capitol” are homophones, which are words that sound the same but have different meanings.

“Capital” has several meanings, it is commonly used to refer to a city or town that serves as the seat of government. Capital is also used to refer to money or resources in business or investment.

On the other hand, “Capitol” refers specifically to a building or group of buildings in which a legislature meets. i.e. the United States Capitol.

Mnemonic Device

A helpful mnemonic to differentiate the two is to remember that the “o” in “Capitol” stands for “only a building.” This distinguishes it from the various meanings of “capital.”

Word Part of Speech Meaning(s)
Capital Noun/Adjective Seat of government, wealth, uppercase letter, important, death penalty-related
Capitol Noun Legislative building

Capital vs. Capitol: the Definition and Usage

Definition and Usage of Capital

The word “capital” can have many meanings. It can refer to money or resources in terms of business. It can also be used when discussing writing like “capital letters”. Lastly, it also can be the “capital” of a state, prefecture, or country.

Here are some uses:

  • My bank really wanted to invest in your business, but we just don’t have the capital right now.
  • Remember that when you write the names of countries or cities that they start with a capital letter.
  • Many people think that the capital of states in America is the biggest city but it’s not always true.

Definition and Usage of Capitol

Now, let’s take a look at “capitol”. This word refers to a specific place where lawmakers meet. It has a “capital” letter when it refers specifically to the building that the US Congress meets. When it’s not capitalized, it refers to a place where other lawmakers meet (like at the state level).

Some uses include:

  • When I visited Washington, D.C., I got a tour of the Capitol Building. (This one starts with a big C.)
  • Summer recess is over so all of the senators are back at the Capitol(This one starts with a big C.)
  • California is going to make a new tax so some people are protesting at the capitol. (This one starts with a small c since it is not the Capitol in Washington, D.C.)

Capitol vs. Capital | Helpful Tips

After examining the difference between the two, we can see that while “capital” has many uses in many situations “Capitol” is specifically used to describe a place where laws are made.

Here’s a simple table to summarize:

Word Meaning Usage Example
Capital City or funds Paris is the capital of France.
Uppercase letter Always start a sentence with a capital letter.
Capitol Legislative building The tour of the state capitol was educational.

Remember the following distinctions:

  • Capital applies to more abstract concepts and quantities.
  • Capitol is concrete, referring to a physical place where legislative sessions take place.

Capital vs. Capitol Examples

Examples of “Capital” in Sentences

  1. London is the capital of the United Kingdom.
  2. The start-up was seeking an initial capital of one million dollars.
  3. Understanding the difference between capital and revenue expenditure is crucial for accounting.
  4. They decided to move the company’s headquarters to the state capital.
  5. The venture capitalists offered to invest capital in the innovative project.

Examples of “Capitol” in Sentences

  1. The tour included a visit to the Capitol where Congress meets.
  2. The protesters gathered outside the Capitol to voice their concerns.
  3. The Capitol building in Washington, D.C., has a distinctive dome.
  4. During the guided tour, we learned about the history of the state capitol.
  5. The governor was scheduled to give a speech on the steps of the capitol next week.

Examples of Sentences that Use Both “Capital” and “Capitol”

  1. The capital required for the new public library was approved by the legislature at the state capitol.
  2. While in the capital, the tourists made sure to visit the historic capitol building.
  3. The capital city’s capitol building is an architectural masterpiece that attracts visitors from around the world.
  4. The debate on the allocation of capital for education took place in the capitol‘s main chamber.
  5. As a sign of respect, the flag at the capitol was lowered to half-mast, affecting the entire capital city’s community.

Capital vs. Capitol Quizzes and Exercises

Quiz 1: Choose the correct word to complete each sentence.

1/ The __________ of California is Sacramento.

  • a) capital
  • b) capitol

2/ The __________ city of France is Paris.

  • a) capital
  • b) capitol

3/ The __________ letter of the alphabet is A.

  • a) capital
  • b) capitol

4/ The __________ building in Washington D.C. is where the United States Congress meets.

  • a) capital
  • b) capitol

5/ The company needs to raise more __________ to expand its business.

  • a) capital
  • b) capitol

Answers:

  1. a) capital
  2. a) capital
  3. a) capital
  4. b) capitol
  5. a) capital

Quiz 2: Decide whether each statement is true or false.

1/ Capital refers to a city or town that is the seat of government, while capitol refers to a building where the legislative body meets.

  • a) True
  • b) False

2/ Capitol and capital are spelled differently but have the same meaning.

  • a) True
  • b) False

3/ Capital can also refer to money or other assets used for investment or production, while capitol has only one meaning.

  • a) True
  • b) False

4/ The word capitol is always capitalized, regardless of where it appears in a sentence.

  • a) True
  • b) False

5/ The word capital can also be used as an adjective, as in “capital punishment” or “capital offense.”

  • a) True
  • b) False

Answers:

  1. a) True
  2. b) False
  3. a) True
  4. a) True
  5. a) True

Some exercises to help you differentiate between “capital” and “capitol”:

Fill in the blank:

1/ The _____ of the United States is located in Washington D.C.

Answer: Capitol

The Capitol is a specific building in Washington D.C. where the United States Congress meets.

2/ The _____ city of France is Paris.

Answer: Capital

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between ‘capital’ and ‘capitol’?
Capital, with an a, refers to:

  • A city that is the seat of government for a country or state.
  • Financial assets or resources.
  • An uppercase letter.

Capitol, with an o, exclusively denotes:

  • A building where a legislature meets.

How can one remember which spelling to use?
One mnemonic is that the o in capitol stands for “only one” meaning, pertaining to a building, and resembles the dome of a capitol building.

Are there any exceptions to these rules?
No, these definitions are consistent: capital always has multiple meanings, and capitol always refers to a building.

Is ‘Capitol’ ever capitalized?
Yes, when referring to a specific capitol building, especially the United States Capitol, it is capitalized.

Does ‘capital’ have other meanings besides a seat of government?
Yes, it can indicate:

  • Excellence or primacy in a particular field.
  • Wealth utilized to create more wealth.

In what context is ‘Capitol Hill’ used?
Capitol Hill refers to the neighborhood in Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Capitol building is located and is a metonym for the U.S. Congress.

Related Homophones