’Bout or ’bout

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f756fd734d0> #<Tag:0x00007f756fd73340>

The automatic “Guess Case” functionality enters the work
“(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” at

with the word ’Bout
Is this OK, or should it be entered as ’bout ?


As far as I remember, there were some discussions about that with no consensus. Perhaps @CallerNo6 can say more about it, I think he was involved in the discussion (but I may be wrong).

There’s an entertaining thread on this question in the mailing list archives. I re-read it every two years or so :slight_smile:

A strict reading of the guideline seems to favor 'Bout.

quote=“Style·Language·English” Between the first and last word of a title Capitalize all words except:

…. followed by a list of exceptions, none of which seem to cover this situation.

Personally, I prefer 'bout but not for any rational reason, and I’m happy to edit my tags manually when this comes up.

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If people can’t agree, it’s always an opportunity to just do what you prefer! Enjoy it while it lasts hehe :wink:


I don’t know if anyone ever used this argument in favour of all lower case contractions I’m about to present:
the apostrophe omits the first letter of word (right, everybody knows that) and that it’s also a stylistic choice telling the reader that the letter replaced is silent or transformed to mimic colloquial speech, however in my view the apostrophe is also there as an replacement for that letter, so it should be lowercase. Here’s my logic:
Schematically: [replace ‘A’ with apostrophe]

  1. pro non-capitalization:
    replacement: About -> 'bout | reverse replacement: 'bout -> About :|: About=About [true]
  2. pro capitalization:
    replacement: About -> 'Bout | reverse replacement: 'Bout -> ABout :|: About=ABout [false]
    So as seen by virtue of logic and mathematical representation (rude attempt), how can #2 be a correct replacement?

I wouldn’t capitalise that first non-omitted letter either, but if I look for guidance on the internet all I can find is usage of the apostrophe with the possessives and plurals, so I guess there are no rules for it in English.

By the way, of course this differs per language. In Dutch, “Des avonds” at the start of a sentence would be capitalised “'s Avonds” when it’s written in its contracted form (which it always is).


If you consider “A” and “a”, and “B” and “b”, to have the same value, both of those become

about → 'bout | reverse replacement: 'bout → about :|: about=about

For an algorithm that takes that input and then applies a “filter” on it before presenting it, uppercasing the first instance of [a-z] (and equally lowercasing it before doing any string transformations on it), you’ll get

About ⇒ about ⇒ 'bout ⇒ 'Bout | reverse replacement: 'Bout ⇒ 'bout ⇒ about ⇒ About :|: About=About

All I’m trying to say (with my rude mathematical representation) is why should the ‘b’ be (be-be :slight_smile:) changed?
Say, if ‘About’ was (correctly) spelled as ‘ABout’, then replacing the ‘A’ with an apostrophe, would then uppercase B ('Bout) be correct…

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Because it isn’t “'Bout” → “ABout”, but “'Bout” → “'bout” → “about” → “About”. The casing doesn’t come into play when contracting, but you still uppercase the first letter in the word. “’” isn’t a letter, so that capitalisation algorithm moves over one and “b” happens to be the next one, so “'B” it is.

Note that I’m not saying that this is the One ’N’ Only Truth, but this is the logic behind “'Bout” and it seems just as valid as the rude math/logic representation you came up with to me.

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I don’t want to drag this discussion on but…

↑ isn’t that a assumption of yours?

I would also write 'bout instead of 'Bout. In fact 'Bout just looks SO wrong to me; I’d automatically just make it 'bout without thinking.
Is this a valid reason?

I honestly don’t know if intuitional knee-jerk reactions are valid here,or even wanted.
on the flip side, disregarding "automated reactions as unwarranted and having nothing to do with logic is probably not good either?



For what it’s worth, I lean towards “'bout” as well. (maybe different if it’s the first word in the title, but not sure)


My gut feeling would be to use lower case except at the beginning of a sentence. I’m not a native english speaker though. What feels natural or look better to me might not be what is desired.


In German, you would use lowercase even at the beginning of a sentence:

’tschuldigung. (= Entschuldigung.)

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This case is addressed by the MB guidelines. See http://musicbrainz.org/doc/Style/Language/English

So, since About should be capitalized, so should 'Bout

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Yes, “About” should be capitalized…so you do that and then contract it by dropping off the “A” leaving: … “'bout”


@xhienne is right, this part really reads like it says to write ’Bout:

Capitalize contractions and slang consistent with the rules above

@Hawke Nowhere is it written that the word should be capitalized before its transformation, be it a contraction, an elision, aphetism or anything else.

If it was so, it would be clearly specified as it has numerous non obvious implications, like:

  • bout” ('bout is sometimes written without the leading apostrophe) should not be capitalized, even as a first word (i.e. in “bout Time” or “bout Dat Time”). Weird.
  • Contractions like “shouldn’t”, “couldn’t”, “don’t”,… should end in “N’t”, with a capitalized N. Weirder.
  • Any backslang word, like “yob”, should actually be written uncapitalized with an ending capital, like yoB? (obviously not, just a thought-provoking question)

As I read it in the guidelines “capitalize contractions and slang consistent with the rules above” means “capitalize the resulting word”, that is:

  • Shouldn’t, not ShouldN’t
  • Yob, not yoB
  • and of course 'Bout, not 'bout, with or without a leading apostrophe

Unfortunately, we cannot access the old forum for previous discussions.
I found this in the old mailing list:

RFC: english capitalization of shortened words begining with a single quote