Capital versus Capitol

What is the Difference Between Capital and Capitol?


When to Use Capital

Capital has a few different meanings.

It can be used in a financial sense to describe money, equipment, or property that is used in a business.

It can sometimes be used figuratively to describe a valuable resource such as “human capital.” It can also refer to a type of letter, a capital or lowercase letter.

But, the definition most relevant to this discussion is capital in the sense of a governmental seat.

Capital, in this sense, refers to the most important city or town in a region, state, country, etc., and it generally refers to the seat of a government or administration center.

For example,

  • Lansing is the capital of Michigan.
  • Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States.


    When to Use Capitol

    A capitol is a building or set of buildings in which a state legislature meets. It can also refer to the U.S. Capitol building.

    For example,

  • The Massachusetts state legislature began its 2013 session in the Capitol today.

  • The hearing was held on Capitol Hill in the north wing of the Capitol building.

  • Capitol should be capitalized when you are referring to the specific building in Washington or specific state capitol buildings.

    For example,

  • Thomas Jefferson designed the Capitol of Virginia.
  • The Michigan Capitol is in Lansing.
    But,

  • Most capitol buildings have offices for legislators.

    Summary

    Is it capitol or capital? This, of course, depends on the subject.

    Capital is the most important city in an area, region, country, etc., and generally refers to a governmental seat.

    Capitol is building where legislators meet and have session.

    You can keep track of capitol vs. capital by visualizing the “O” in capitol as the top of a capitol buildings’ dome.


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