Capitalization of “If”

Should if be capitalized or not when in the middle of the phrase, according to the English capitalization guidelines?

Based on the fact that it is a conjunction and made of less than 3 letters, it shouldn’t be capitalized; on the other hand it is missing from the list of the words to keep lowercase at Style / Language / English - MusicBrainz and indeed I almost always see it capitalized.

So can someone help clarifying this? Thanks

The three letter thing is about prepositions, not conjunctions, so it should probably be capitalized :slight_smile:


Thanks for the answer, but even knowing the three letters or less rules applies to prepositions and not to conjunctions, it doesn’t explain why if is excluded from the list of the words to keep lowercase, when there is no difference from the other conjunctions from a grammar perspective.

I’m sure what you mean by

when there is no difference from the other conjunctions from a grammar perspective

But maybe it would be easier if you have an example. Is there a specific title you have doubts about?

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I have any specific title actually, I just wanted to be sure that I was doing right capitalizing it since it is excluded from the list in the guidelines, but then it came to my mind that if is a conjunction as well and that someone told me once that list was somewhat incomplete, so that’s where my doubts started!

If you need a practical example I could quote your sentence; how’d you capitalize a title like:

  1. It Would Be Easier If You Have an Example
  2. It Would Be Easier if You Have an Example
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OK, I understand your doubt now. Actually, there is a grammatical difference between if and the conjunctions mentioned in the guideline. The guideline says coordinating conjunctions, like and, but, and, nor should be lower case, but if is a subordinating conjunction.

Probably, somebody told you the list is incomplete because it doesn’t include all coordinating conjunctions, but that doesn’t mean all conjunctions should be lowercase.

So for our example, it would be number 2:

It Would Be Easier if You Have an Example


Some time ago I found You can choose from 9 style guides in common use in English. It also explains the basic capitalization guidelines for each guide. Most of them specify that coordinating conjunctions should be lower-case and subordinating conjunctions should be upper-case.


Thanks all! That was the rule I was missing.
I’m not an English native and in my language capitalization rules are different, for example there is not this difference between coordinating and subordinating conjunctions…

One last thing to clarify though, if there is a general agreement to keep if uppercase, then shouldn’t the correct title in our example be the first option?


The fact is there is no “English title case”, despite what most people think. There are many different rules in different style guides, so you just have to follow whatever guideline is in place. You can go crazy trying to understand the “why” of each rule.

Yes! Sorry, I copied the wrong sentence there.