I use Google to translate phrases in my iPad app; when I have a phrase that starts with a capital letter in English, Google translates the phrase but starts with a lower-case letter. Is this linguistically correct?

3 Answers 3


Every sentence in Spanish must start with a capital letter. See clause 3.1 here.

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    There is a tiny exception: when a sentence starts with a symbol in smallcase (such as pH, kg, etc). Nevertheless, to avoid this case, the recommendation is never to start a sentence with one of these symbols, which is usually quite easy to do (e.g.: m es el símbolo del metro would become El símbolo del metro es m).
    – Gorpik
    Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 11:12
  • @Gorpik: Very interesting. Do you have a reference for that?
    – CesarGon
    Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 14:12
  • I've read the símbolo article of the DPD, but there is nothing there. It just mentions that symbols are as they are (i.e. they never change their combination of capitals and smallcase letters). I'd swear I've read the recommendation in some RAE document, but I cannot find it. Not good enough for an answer, so I left it as just a comment to your correct answer.
    – Gorpik
    Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 14:16
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    @Gorpik: I have the same feeling. I sort of recall reading about it somewhere, but I can't put my finger on it. Anyway, thank you!
    – CesarGon
    Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 14:18

Well, you should not use Google Translate to assess linguistic correctness.

Having said that, to answer your question to the letter, there are some exceptions where the sentence might not start with a capital letter.

  • units and other abbreviations have been mentioned: pH, kg
  • a sentence could start with with an inverted exclamation or question mark. ¿No es verdad? There might be some controversy about what is a sentence in this case, though.
  • a sentence might start with a quotation mark.“Sí”, dije yo.
  • a sentence might start with a Unix command. Unix commands are case sensitive, and using uppercase would be a big error. ls es un comando del sistema operativo Unix.
  • a sentence might start with a proper name that does not start with a capital letter. Though often people capitalize the name anyway, I prefer to use the correct form. 't Hooft es un físico neerlandés.
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    The physicist's name is an interesting exception, but I think you should remove the bullets that talk about punctuation marks. Welcome to the site, Radovan! Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 20:43

Grammar says so, Spanish sentences must start with a capital letter.

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