Teachers should know the difference between "capitol" and "capital"

It’s a subtle distinction in that a state’s Capitol is located in the capital city, but there is a clear difference. I had to learn this when I was in elementary school. One of my Facebook friends is a 1st grade teacher and remarked in her status that she “just got back from seeing the capital” in Santa Fe. Apologizing for being pedantic at the get-go, I pointed out that she actually saw “the Capitol.” Her response was to request that I “shut up.”

My mundane–and maybe pointless–argument is that teachers should know these distinctions. Mine did. Or maybe subtle language points like these are quaint throwbacks to a time–not too long ago in my case–where teachers were encouraged to be prescriptivist about language.

I don’t know exactly why I’m making an issue of this. But something about her being a teacher and clearly not caring about using a word correctly sticks in my craw.

Enjoy your day.

Education majors have nearly the lowest ACT scores of all college freshmen. I am truly not surprised at some of the hideous mistakes I see with my kids’ teachers. As a student, I remember regularly correcting my teachers.

My step daughter’s high school math teacher puts apostrophes in plurals.

I hold teachers to a higher standard than the public at large. If you’re teaching my children, teach them proper language use by example.

I actually red-lined a letter that a teacher sent home (over a dozen errors in two pages), and my wife had to stop me from sending it back to him.

You should have sent it back to the principal.

I haven’t had too much trouble with my kids’ (or my) teachers, if you don’t count the couple who were just pretty much incompetent. But my sister got a note from her son’s kindergarten teacher once, explaining that he didn’t have a grade for something listed on his report card because “we haven’t did that yet.”

Not to be pedantic, but the New Mexico State Capitol is the capitol located in Santa Fe. The Capitol is the building in DC. So if she saw the Capitol she would be in DC. She likely saw the capitol. It’s all about the capitoliz…err…capitalization.

But to continue to be pedantic, if she toured the city, then she did just get back “from seeing the capital”. Was she really talking about the building?

Yep. Our teachers are not very bright. Even in college, it’s discouraging. I work for my university helping faculty use the online learning environment we use here, so I get to see just how dumb a lot of these teachers actually are.

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I can understand why would want that but the system that put that teacher there doesn’t do that. With very low starting salaries the system attracts two kinds of people:

  • intelligent people who truly want to teach and are willing to forgo personal wealth to do so
  • people who are too incompetent, unemployable, uneducated to find higher pay

Which group do you think has the highest population?
It’s possible that you could ll get an entire school populated by the dedicated group but to get each one of them the administrators probably have to weed out a dozen of the nincompoops. And many of those nincompoops eventually worm their way into the administrator position.

Cite, please. And by “nearly,” do you mean second lowest? Third lowest? In the bottom half? Bottom third? How are you divvying up majors? Is this across the United States, or just one school?

Yes, you’re right!:smack: What’s the name of that rule that guarantees that this will happen?

I actually followed up my comment with a statement to the effect of, “Well if you saw a lot of Santa Fe, then your saying ‘I saw the capital’ would be correct in that case.” She didn’t elaborate on her “Shut up” comment, though.

Come to think of it, I remember a 5th grade teacher of mine often saying that such-and-such “was broke,” e.g., “It’s hot in here because the air conditioner is broke.”

In middle school my son corrected his teacher’s spelling of Adolf Hitler (she wanted to spell it Adolph). He even bet her she was wrong; she accepted, but didn’t pay up. So isn’t the issue here really about teachers who are also bet welshers? Yes, yes, I think it is!

My mom was an English teacher so I had a better-than-average grasp of grammar early, but certainly not something that should outweigh an English teacher’s. But I was constantly finding errors in my eighth grade English teacher’s lessons and taking them home to confirm with Mom. (I didn’t point anything out to the teacher so I wasn’t undermining her or anything. But even then I felt it was pretty sad that I knew more in eighth grade than a college graduate - who’d majored in English - did.) I could understand somewhat if the math teacher didn’t know grammar all that well, but if you’re going to teach English, you really should know English grammar.

Eh. Not that the internet is a great source of grammar info, but it seems that New Mexico State Capitol building is capitalized. Still, the O vs. A is what’s irritating.

My 2nd grader’s teacher sent back his essay about a trip to St. Louis with every single “St. Louis” corrected to “St. Lewis.” :rolleyes:


I used to be wary of “firing the bad teachers” as a solution to education problems. But if errors *this *egregious are becoming more than isolated incidents, then perhaps I need to rethink my position.

Well, seeing Santa Fe was a capital idea, regardless.

My son’s 1st grade teacher was listing desert animals on the blackboard, and all of them had apostrophes! Eek! Like this:


Mountain lion’s
Road runner’s
Rattle snake’s

I didn’t know if I should say something to her, sneak in while she wasn’t there and erase the apostrophes, or what.


Don’t even get me started on the fourth grade teacher I saw spell the president’s name as Barack O’Bama. Apparently our president is Irish…

On a personal level I believe I’ve gotten quite lazy myself. In my line of work when I write a report it’s usually to someone who couldn’t correct me if their life depended on it. Perhaps I should go dig up my copy of “Elements of Style”.