Do You Capitalize “Vice President”? When and When Not To


do you capitalize vice president

When addressing someone as important as the vice president, one thing is clear. You do not want to make grammatical errors. However, one area that can sometimes challenge you is its capitalization. So, you are wondering, do you capitalize vice president, when and when not to.

You should only capitalize vice president when you use it as a prefix to a proper noun or name. In such a case, the word somewhat functions as a proper noun. You should also capitalize when you use it in a direct address. However, do not capitalize where you use it as just a common noun.

Still, the guiding rules do not stop here. What do you do when you add a suffix to the word? In what other cases should you avoid capitalization? Well, we have got all that covered in this article.

Dive in to get the answers you need.

vice president capitalized on keyboard

Should You Capitalize “Vice President”?

You have got to admit; you find yourself using the word vice president more than you expect. This records an increase during the election period. However, you are not so sure if you should capitalize the word when you use it.

Well, there are cases when you need to capitalize the word. On the other hand, there are cases when you should avoid capitalizing the words. This sounds all abstract. Now, watch us break it down for you.

When to Capitalize Vice President 

You will need to capitalize the word vice president in some cases. However, keep in mind that this capitalization is not arbitrary. There are clear rules you will need to follow through with. 

Now, here is what you need to keep in mind.

You will need to capitalize the word vice president when you use it as a prefix to a proper name. So, it is simple. If you decide to address the vice president with his title while mentioning his name, you need to capitalize the title.

For instance, to address Vice President Denzel Washington appropriately, you will need to capitalize the title as we have done here. This rule is because the title functions as a proper noun in this case. As you must know, the rules of English require you to capitalize proper nouns. 

Now that you have got that clear, there is one more rule to keep in mind regarding when to capitalize. Precisely, you should capitalize the word vice president when you use it in a direct address. 

In such a case, you have not just replaced the vice president’s name with the title. However, you are also using it in a direct address, limiting the scope of its application. As such, you can understand it from the point of view that you are addressing someone. In turn, the title somewhat functions as his proper name.

Note that this assumption only works when you use the title in a direct address. Now, where you replace the name of the vice president with his title in a sentence. And, you do not address the vice president. This rule will not apply. For instance, if you are stating that the vice president will be around at a program. 

When Not to Capitalize Vice President 

Now that we are clear on when to capitalize vice president, the next business order is when not to. Keep in mind that this is as important as the rules guiding capitalization. And, of course, if you do not pay attention to it, you will make mistakes.

We bet you do not want that. So, here is what to keep in mind. 

You should not capitalize vice president in a case where you use it as a common noun. In this instance, you do not refer to a person in specific. Rather you refer to the office in general. As such, it functions as a common noun which you should refrain from capitalizing.

You have also learned that you should capitalize when the vice president comes before a proper name or noun. Now, you are probably wondering what happens if the title comes after the proper name.

Well, it falls under the category of times you should not capitalize the word. This is because, in this instance, it performs more of a descriptive function. Precisely, it does not function as a proper noun. So, refrain from capitalizing it in such instance. 

Also, there are some cases where the title comes before a proper noun, and you should not capitalize. This is in cases where the proper name has a nonessential function in the sentence. Note that in most cases, the phrase gets offsets by commas.

Now, you might be unclear on what nonessential means. Well, we have got you covered. A phrase is nonessential, where it performs no important function. And, more importantly, the sentence can do without it. So, if you were to remove the phrase, the sentence would still make complete sense.

For instance, “the captain, Bill James, has a party today” has a nonessential phrase in Bill James. We could remove Bill James, and everyone who you address will still get the point. For example, the captain has a party today. 

So, in a similar situation where the title-holder’s name is nonessential, it does not matter that it comes after the title. The title will not work as a proper noun in such an instance, more so the comma. As such, do not capitalize the word vice president in such instances. 

Alternative Rules 

So far, we have addressed the relevant rules concerning when and when to capitalize vice president. Later, we will provide illustrative examples to ensure you get the full gist. Great right?

However, just before that, there are some cases where the word vice president receives an extension. For instance, we could have the word vice presidential. We could also have the word vice president-elect.

You can bet that some rules guide their capitalization. Here is what you need to know.

When it comes to the ‘ial” extension, it does not act as a proper noun in its natural state. As such, refrain from its capitalization. However, in a case where it functions as one by being a proper noun part, you can capitalize it.

Now, when it comes to the addition of the word elect, it is quite simple. The various rules that guide the capitalization of the word vice president also guide it. So, if you fully understand them, you will not have any problem with its capitalization and otherwise. 

vice president desk plaque in gold

Illustrative Examples 

Now we have got all the rules out of the way. Let us proceed to the illustrative examples. This way, you can better understand the rules.

Rule 1: Capitalize Vice President When You Use It as Part of a Proper Name 

Incorrect

  • I am aware that vice president Thomas Jefferson is a man whose legacy lives on.
  • I read up on the reforms that vice president George Clinton carried out.

Correct

  • I am aware that Vice President Thomas Jefferson is a man whose legacy lives on
  • I read up on the reforms that Vice President George Clinton carried out.

Rule 2: Capitalize Vice President When You Use It in A Direct Address 

Incorrect

  • Hello there, Mr. vice president.
  • Would you like a cup of coffee, vice president?

Correct

  • Hello there, Mr. Vice President. 
  • Would you like a cup of coffee, Vice President?

Rule 3: Do Not Capitalize Vice President When It Is A Common Noun 

Incorrect

  • The Vice President will be available for the tour. 

Correct

  • The vice president will be available for the tour.

Rule 4: Do Not Capitalize Vice President When It Comes After a Proper Name

Incorrect

  • Mike Pence, Vice President of the US, will be present at the event.

Correct

  • Mike Pence, vice president of the US, will be present at the event. 

Rule 5: Do Not Capitalize Vice President If It Precedes a Nonessential Name

Incorrect

  • The 44th Vice President, Joe Biden, might become the 46th president. 
  • Our Vice President acts presidential in all his activities. 

Correct

  • The 44th vice president, Joe Biden, might become the 46th president.
  • Our vice president acts presidential in all his activities. 

Rule 6: Do Not Capitalize the “ial” Extension When It Is in Its Natural State 

Incorrect

  • You can tell that we will get a Vice President who will act, Vice Presidential in all activities.

Correct

  • You can tell that we will get a vice president who will act, vice presidential in all activities. 

Rule 7: Capitalize the “ial” Extension When It Is Part or Functions as A Proper Noun 

Incorrect

  • The vice presidential Medal of Honor will get unveiled in the coming weeks.

Correct

  • The Vice Presidential Medal of Honor will get unveiled in the coming weeks.

VP initials in wooden blocks

In Conclusion 

We know that getting all accustomed to the right rules can take a while. However, that should not stop you from trying. We have broken down the rules for your easy comprehension.

So, read up and have fun learning.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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