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OET Grammar and Punctuation: Capital Letters

a healthcare worker is writing at a desk

Capital letter rules for OET Writing 

As you know, in a healthcare setting, precision is key, and it also extends to the way you write. This precision is not only required in your clinical skills, but also in writing patient reports, referral letters, discharge summaries and more. Punctuation is part of this precision. In this post, we're going to clarify the rules around using capital letters in English, particularly with reference to the OET Writing sub-test 

Let's go through the most common capital letter rules and see some examples. 


1. Beginning of a sentence

Every sentence should begin with a capital letter. It marks the beginning of a sentence and is a fundamental rule in English writing. 

Example: "Mrs. Smith was admitted to the hospital last Tuesday. She is being treated for a severe case of pneumonia." 


2. Proper nouns

All names of people, places, days, months, and holidays should begin with a capital letter. This includes names of hospitals and clinics. 

Example: "Dr. Johnson referred Mr. Patel for an X-ray at Royal Melbourne Hospital." 


3. Acronyms 

Letters in acronyms are almost always capitalised. 

Example: "The patient's MRI revealed no abnormalities. He was then assessed by the ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) Specialist." 


4. The pronoun 'I'

The pronoun 'I' is always capitalised in English, no matter where it falls in a sentence. 

Example: "I have recommended Mr. Davis for physiotherapy sessions." 


5. Brand names of medications

The brand names of medications need capital letters (e.g., Panadol, Zyrtec, Eurax), but the generic names do not (e.g., aspirin, diazepam, fluconazole). 

Example: "I have prescribed Lipitor 20mg in the morning for Mrs. Ross and increased her metformin regime to 750mg twice daily.” 


6. Medical conditions named after people & places

When a disease is named after a person, such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease, the disease name is capitalised. Similarly, diseases named after specific locations are usually capitalised. For instance, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Lyme disease (named after Lyme, Connecticut). 

Example: "The patient was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease last month." 

Example: "We have seen an increase in cases of Lyme disease this year." 


Remember, consistent and correct use of capital letters adds clarity and professionalism to your writing.  

Keep these rules in mind as you practise for your OET writing sub-test. Happy learning and best of luck for your OET journey!