Capitalization rules when the sentence begins with a number



The context is about work progress. Planned work is 100%. Someone implemented only 45% of the work.

45% of the work was implemented.

The sentence begins with the number. Please write whether we capitalize the first letter after the number? Is it normal in English if a sentence begins with a number?


Posted 2015-04-14T18:24:09.757




No, you do not capitalize the first letter after the beginning of the sentence...


You should not start a sentence with a numeral.

You should either rewrite the sentence or write the number out fully:

Forty-five percent of the work was implemented.


Posted 2015-04-14T18:24:09.757

Reputation: 25 211

Thanks. If a part before the main verb is very long in the sentence and a part after the main verb is very short, what can you suggest then? – None – 2015-04-14T18:31:56.943

@user18856 does this still apply to the numeral question? If not, please ask a new question. If it does, please give an example so that I can better understand what you're asking. – Catija – 2015-04-14T18:33:04.460

5note that there is no "rule" that you can't start a sentence with a numeral. you certainly can, and it wouldn't be "wrong". use your best judgment. – user428517 – 2015-04-14T18:36:23.330


@sgroves Both MLA and APA recommend that you rewrite sentences beginning with numbers or write the number out, as does every source on the web I've found.

– Catija – 2015-04-14T18:46:23.460

3@catija that's true. what i said is also true. the mla and apa don't have any particular authority. they just make style suggestions for students. – user428517 – 2015-04-14T18:50:50.073

@sgroves Technically, there is no "writing authority" that makes requirements about anything regarding the English language. Everything we do in writing is based on consensus and, I would argue, the consensus is that leading numbers in sentences should be written out. If you want to make a second answer, feel free. – Catija – 2015-04-14T18:52:43.723

1Yes, this is a rule set forth in MLA and other style guides. Personally, I think it's a rule that serves no useful purpose. If I was writing for a teacher or an editor who says, "You must follow MLA", then I would do it. Personally I cheerfully ignore this rule most of the time. – Jay – 2015-04-14T20:23:36.623

3@Jay - Just my two cents: I think sometimes it's better to ignore the rule (particularly for large numbers or years; e.g., if I wanted to say, "112 inches of snow fell last winter," or "1846 was a hard winter," I don't think I'd spell those out). On the other hand, if I was quoting Lincoln ("Four score and seven years ago...") I think that would look pretty sloppy to using numerals: 4 score and 7 years ago. Be we stalwarts or skeptics of style guides, I think we can all agree that some common sense can be applied. – J.R. – 2015-04-14T20:50:22.577

2@j.r. Oh, sure. I think that's a case of "spell out small numbers, use digits for large numbers". That's a rule I respect and follow. Even if it's in the middle of a sentence, I routinely write, say, "I was born in AD 1958, so I am now two-score and sixteen years old." – Jay – 2015-04-14T21:54:33.380

@Jay The rule does serve a useful purpose, which is to increase readability by more clearly indicating the start of a new sentence. Granted, there are other cues, but it helps in a small way, much like using serif fonts on printed paper or adding whitespace to break up paragraphs. – DCShannon – 2015-04-15T02:00:43.407

@sgroves It is not entirely true that MLA and APA "don't have any particular authority". Both are official standards of scores, perhaps hundreds, of learned journals, and if you want to publish in those journals your copy must conform to the prescribed style. What is true is that they have no particular authority where they have not been formally adopted. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2015-08-06T12:56:54.907


I agree completely with Catija's answer: no, you don't capitalize 'of', but it's better not to start sentences with numerals. However, I wanted to elaborate on when to use this 'rule', and my comment was getting rather long.

Normally, you would just write out the number, as in the 'forty-five' example.

However, as has been pointed out in comments, sometimes you don't want to write out a long number or year, like 1846. If you have a sentence that starts with such a number, like:

1846 was a very good year.

Then you can reword the sentence so that the number is not the first word:

  1. It was a very good year in 1846.
  2. A good year, 1846.
  3. The year 1846 was very good.

Just like any other 'rule' in English, there are bound to be exceptions. Perhaps you feel that the rewritten sentences are too awkward, and that's certainly a decision that falls within an author's creative freedom.

That being said, this rule does serve a purpose. A capital letter signals the start of a new sentence just as a punctuation mark can signal the end of the previous one. Therefore, starting each sentence with a capital letter aids readability.


Posted 2015-04-14T18:24:09.757

Reputation: 3 272


The sentences, which starts with numerals, are not necessary capitalized after them. The capitalization can occur following some rules for titles but then all the notional words are capitalized in that situations.


Darius Miliauskas

Posted 2015-04-14T18:24:09.757

Reputation: 256