Titles with the a- prefixes: Keep a-Knocking vs. Keep A-Knocking


I came across a problem regarding a- prefixes. Titles like ‘Keep A-Knocking’, ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’, ‘Down the Road Apiece’, ‘My Ding-A-Ling’, ‘Keep A-Coming’, and ‘We Went A-Walking’.

I did some research and this is what i found:

‘‘A reduced form of the Old English preposition on, meaning “on,” “in,” “into,” “to,” “toward,” preserved before a noun in a prepositional phrase, forming a predicate adjective or an adverbial element (afoot; abed; ashore; aside; away), or before an adjective (afar; aloud; alow), as a moribund prefix with a verb (acknowledge), and in archaic and dialectal use before a present participle in -ing (set the bells aringing); and added to a verb stem with the force of a present participle (ablaze; agape; aglow; astride; and originally, awry).’’

(taken from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/a-)

So, in case of the ‘Keep A-Knocking’ title, should I uppercase the ‘a’ because it means: ‘Keep On-Knocking’? Because you would normally also uppercase ‘On’ in this title? And if the ‘a’ can be replaced with into, do you also uppercase it? And what about nonsense titles like ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’? Should we capitalize these ‘a’ or not. My guess is yes because they are not used as articles.

And then you also got variants of these titles like: ‘Keep A Knocking’, ‘Be Bop A Lula’, ‘Down the Road A Piece’ and ‘My Ding A Ling’. My guess is that we capitalize them also.

I’m not sure tho, would love to hear your opinions on this topic.

Thanks everyone!


Yes, it should be capitalized when used in nonsense titles or as a prefix. I used to lowercase them as well but was instructed not to do so anymore when used this way. Exactly why you said. Only when used as an article should it be lowercase. It’s common to see the lowercase, especially when not used as a prefix with the “-” due to the guess case button.