As the effects of the government shutdown surround us and remind us how truly frustrating American politics can be, I thought it would be a good time to bring up an error often seen in discussions of politics: the difference between “capital” and “capitol.”
The oft-mistaken “capital” and “capitol” are simple enough to remember but are confused a shocking number of times. “Capitol” refers to the physical building or complex that houses the government — for example, the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., where lawmakers (typically) work to ensure the well-being of the American public, or our beautiful California State Capitol in Sacramento. If you want to refer to the city of Washington, D.C., as the capital of our country, however, you would (as just demonstrated) use “capital.” The capital city of California is Sacramento, but state legislators convene at the Capitol building.
Now that that’s solved, let’s hope our members of Congress can get on with solving that whole shutdown thing.