A Capital’s Capitol Requires a Lot of Capital

Capitol_Hill_and_Reflecting_PoolQuestion: What’s the difference between capital and capitol?

Answer: I’ll answer this question with a little story.

In many American elementary schools (schools for children ages six to twelve), it’s very common for students to memorize the names of the U.S. state capitals. The capital of a state is the seat or home of that state’s government, where you will find the main government offices for that state. Here in California, the capital is Sacramento. Where I grew up, in Minnesota, the capital is St. Paul. Each of the 50 states has its own capital.

When I was in third grade (about eight years old), we had a contest (competition) in my school to see who could memorize all 50 state capitals the fastest. As soon as I heard about it, I thought, “Well, I have to win this contest!” So, I went home and I started memorizing the names of the state capitals.

After a week or so (approximately one week later), I went to the teacher and said, “I think I’m ready.” She gave me a piece of paper with the names of the states and I had to write the names of the capitals. I got them all correct, and won the contest. That victory (win) still stands as (still is) the greatest academic achievement of my career.

And what was the prize I received for being the first third grader to memorize the state capitals? One quarter – twenty-five cents.

Now, to make things even more confusing, there’s another related word, capitol, spelled with an “o.” Capitol is used to describe the building where part of the state government meets and has its offices (usually the part we call the legislative branch, the elected representatives). Each capital (city) has a capitol (building).

But wait! We’re not finished yet. You see, we can also say that building a capitol in a state’s capital requires a lot of capital.

This last use of capital refers to the amount of money you have to invest in or start a business, or just to do some large project. We use the same word, capital, for two different concepts – the seat of government and money to build or do something.

But perhaps these two meanings of capital aren’t so different after all. I mean, if you want to get elected so that you can work at the capitol in your state’s capital, you’re going to need a lot of capital.


Photo credit: Capitol Hill and Reflecting Pool, Wikipedia

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33 Responses to A Capital’s Capitol Requires a Lot of Capital

  1. Marcos says:

    Hi everyone

    Here we have 26 states each of states has its own capital and believe me, right now I don’t remember the name of each state, just 20, capitals maybe 15.

    Thank you and nice day Dr. Jeff

  2. Dan says:

    Hello guys,

    Wait, wait, my head is spinning, could you Jeff please rewrite the piece more clearly. I did not get it. Too many Capital capitol.

    Hey, let us remember that the pillars of the capitol in the capital have the capitol as a architectural feature.

    Jeff, for the first time you made me go like “Awwww” at reading the story of when you were a kid. That’s so cute. And you only got 25C.
    I am curious, do you still remember all the capitals?


  3. peter says:

    Hi chief ,
    Charming as usual
    U got some reminiscence going on there.
    It shows that u had a good memory even as a child.
    There is good play with words there. I must say , I liked it.
    I don’t undrestand one thing though. Why in U.S. every state has some Capitols in their capital cities.
    I mean typically all the Capitols are usually concentrated in the capital of the country.
    Like here in Canada , the capital of Ontario is Toronto but there are no Capitol in large scales here.
    The capitols in that scale are located in the capital of Canada “Ottawa.”
    Like all the embassis and parkemant building and so on

  4. peter says:

    Dan, I was wondering it myself

    Dear jeff
    Just out of curiosity , do u still know them by heart?
    Or they have slipped your mind already?

  5. Thiago Messias says:

    Hey Jeff, that is great. I´ve got an American friend here in Brazil that in she could also memorize and tell all the states really fast.
    Great article. I love you guys. Awesome work.

  6. Tania says:

    Hi! Very funny this word game “a capital’s Capitol requires a lot of capital”.
    To me it is very easy to understand and enjoy as we use the same words: a capital of a country, capital meaning money.
    I know the word Capitol from my first Roman History lessons.
    Today, Roman Capitol is a perfect starting point for a visit of the Eternal City, Rome, the capital of Italy.

  7. Tania says:

    Hi! I like very much the Roman Empire history.
    The Romans civilized all Europe.
    Even my country was a Roman province, and we are proud of that.
    Our modern language and writing are of Roman origine.
    That’s why we use many, many modern and international words.

  8. Marek says:

    Could you explain me if it matters how many capitals of states we already know, does it makes us different from each other? does it make us sit at the Capitol to earn more Capital?

  9. Tania says:

    Hi! May I practice my English with a story of Romans? I know it from my school.


    Rome was all destroyed by the Gauls except the Capitol , where a little army was behind the massive wals.
    This fortress was situated on the top of the Capitoline hill, so that the Gauls could not easily become masters of it.
    Whenever they tried to scale the steep mountain side, the Romans showered arrows and stones down upon them.
    The Gauls remained in their camp at the foot of the Capitol, hoping to starve the Romans into surrender.
    The Gallic chief decided to surprise the Romans in one night, silently scaling the rocks while the weary garrison slept.
    The barbariens were just climbing over the wall, when their noise awoke the sacred geese which were kept in the Capitol. The geese began cackling so loudly giving the alarm.
    The Romans rolled all the Gauls to the foot of the rock. To leave Rome, the Romans offered gold to the Gauls.
    But a Roman fighter exclaimed:


  10. Tania says:

    Hi! No, I have not seen the movie “All That Jazz”.
    But I think I’d like to. I have found the lyrics of the songs.
    I like to share with you them.

    Americano (Dance Again)

    “I wanna dance
    And love
    And dance
    Aaah, America, Americano (I wanna dance).
    I will fight for
    I have fought for how I love
    I have cried for,
    I will die for how I care
    In the mountains.”

  11. Tania says:



    “Come on, babe
    We’re gonna brush the sky
    I betcha Lucky Lindy
    never flew so high
    ‘Cause in the stratosphere
    How could he lend an ear
    To all that jazz?
    No, I’m no one’s wife
    But , oh, I love my life
    And all that jazz
    That jazz.”

  12. Tania says:



    “You better change your way of livin’
    And if that ain’t enough

    You better change your way
    ‘Cause nobody wants you
    When you’re old and gray
    You better change your way today.”

  13. Takayuki says:

    Well, in capitals, I want to ask you.
    CAN I SAY “Capital’s capital is capital with a C”?

  14. Takayuki says:

    I did miss one more ‘capital’…

    “Capital’s capital is capital with a capital C”?

  15. peter says:

    I know just the capital of two contiguous province here the province of Ontario
    And the province of Quebec.
    There are 8 provinces and a few territories in Canada.
    The second largest country in the World is Canada
    USA comes third, I believe
    Yet , Canada has a population of roughly 32 millions
    And US has a population of roughly 300 millions

  16. Tania says:

    Hi! Being an institution, only Capitol is written with capital letter C.

  17. Tania says:

    “”He became numero uno game player – uh, to the point where he didn’t know where the games ended,
    and the reality began.
    The only reality – is death man.”

    All That Jazz Quotes

  18. emiliano says:

    As you know Jeff, in Spanish language capital has the same meanings that in English.
    The Word comes from the Latin “caput” meaning “head” in English and “cabeza” in Spanish.
    Other words that come from “caput” are “captain” “decapitate” or even Capo as the chief or manager.
    In Spanish it is just the same “capitán” “decapitar” “caporal” “capital” (meaning money, fortune, or
    the head city of the country or Región).

    Yes, sometime the language are similar when words come from Latin, the well known language
    for hundred of years of the Roman Empire for ancient time.

    By the way, my dear Cuca knows also all the fifty Usa states placing them on the USA map what
    is really incredible.
    She remembers all the States as a therapy to get the dream at night together with other incredible
    One different subject by day, Worlk Capitals from Europe, Assia, Africa, Oceanía and America.
    Film Oscars, Olympic cities round the world, list of Kings in England, France, or Spain….and so on.

    Thirty different subjects along each month, that is the procedure of Cuca to get sleepy every night
    and don´t think too much about her illness.

    Again thank you so much dear Jeff. emiliano

  19. Tania says:

    “No, nothing I ever do is good enough.
    Now, when I see a rose, that’s perfect. I mean, that’s perfect.
    I want to look up to God and say,
    “How did you do that? And why can’t I do that?”

    All That Jazz Quotes

  20. Parviz says:

    Hi Jeff,
    How have you been today, and then.
    I am not sure if you are following the news on the internet.
    If you were, then you must have heard of this negotiation over this dubious Nuke agreement.
    I was hoping very much, strongly recently, that they would finally come down to an agreement.
    Truth be told the burden of the sanctions is breaking our back gradually and badly.
    You may say, well this is of topic, but where there people round you are suffering, that may effect you as well.
    Any way congratulation for your victory over that primary-school-time-endeavor.
    You have shown rightly that are a self-made man.
    It is now a proven fact that man should be recognized by his achievements, and I , for one, am glad that my teacher is not undated by the enormity of the undertakings, no matter his age, or statue.
    I am impressed hoe you manged to inform us of your dominant knowledge of this case by elaborating this great post.
    Wait to see your greater achievements, Teacher.

  21. Parviz says:

    And above all
    I am gratefully happy to see Emiliano has turned up again.
    I am certain that this man knows a lot to teach about capital, you being, into baking system for a long of a time.
    Am I right emiliano?
    Almost forgot….
    How is Cuca? Say hello to her.
    And one of my students and I decide to publish your story, If you kindly send us a manuscript of yours.
    I’d very much like to read it again.
    Actually, ever since I read your story it has been my lighthouse.
    I think about how persistence and patience.

  22. sutisha says:

    Hi everybody,
    Thank you for your always great job! Jeff.
    Thank you everyone who writes.
    I enjoy reading all.
    Emiliano, please give my regards to Cuca.
    I do realize how she feels in some way
    Thank you ESL PODCAST’s team..

  23. emiliano says:

    Dear Parviz, firts of all thank you so much in your real interest about my Cuca, she is going to be worst every day passing away.
    Now she can´t walk anything and needs to be on the Wheel chair very momento, or in the bed as she use to be very tired as a rule.
    I have a machine to get up her from the bed, the Wheel chair and helping her to go to the bathroom. I know it is very sad and I
    don´t like to talk about it but here it is an excepttion with all my Blot´s Friends.
    Never I have been out from the Blog as I have been reading all the posts beeing in touch with my dear friend Jeff and all of you
    who write here.

    It would be an honor for me if you publish the story of Cuca and Emiliano, but it is written in a very bad English way, in fact
    it is awfully written, I know it. Having in mind this subject afterward I repeat the story in my own language Castellano/Spanish
    and I think it is better in my language ans even short.

    But if you want to read it or even publish it, the English one I suppose, I´ll will sent it to you as son as you wanted.
    My mail is solosencasa@hotmail.com write me a message and I will enclose the story to every one of you that wanted
    to read the nice story awfully written in English by a question than Parviz, you in fact, asked to me.
    Did you remember?. I was like a signal that started everything inside my mind.
    After that I began to write, first in English, but afterward in Spanis. Just now I have fineshed the first ficction story created
    inside my crazy mind about the end of the world.
    Yes, that´s true, a fictional story about the end of nearly everything, only a group of every few people could sabe themselves
    in a new hard world.
    Just incredible, and you were the person who burn the emiliano´s fire to write. Something I wanted always my very dear
    friend Parviz.

    Always grateful to you Parviz by asking me that question …….how did you meet your wife Cuca, emiliano ? ……..
    and emilianot started to write a long long love story, his own.

    My best.

    (Yes Parviz, I was working in a Bank for years and years, nearly all my life, and also yes I know a lot about Capital and
    even I was teaching something about that for some time being younger…….incredible)


  24. emiliano says:

    As I use to do, sorry, I didn´t read what I have written and the ENGLISH IS REALLY BAD, sorry about so many mistakes
    typing the post, but my time it is short now.

    Don´t have them in mind dear Blog readers.
    Just a very bad example….

  25. peter says:

    I have been lurching Amazon website since when Jeff recommended us to get ” The elements of style” by white ,4th edition.
    Guess what
    Amazon offering the audio version of it for free
    I totally psyched about it
    It will help us , as Jeff put it ,tweak up our writing style. I ,for one , m a lousy writer. I could use a tweak or two to improve an otherwise crappy writing style.of course , I speak just for myself.

    I got it already
    It was back on the cafe that jeff had an autobiography on “White” : a great writer who created ” Charlotte’s spider.” I watched both the movie and animation version of the story.
    On the cafe ,Jeff goes on and on that every English language learner particularly the ones in advanced level needs a copy of this book on his/her book shelf.
    Even he himself has got the second edition of the book.
    Mad Jeff said too ,the book is revised 4th time
    You can get the book itself through Anazon website for as law as 9.5o
    I added to my collage of English audio books already
    By now
    Pete , an avid Eslpod listener , from Ontario Canada

  26. peter says:

    I must say , I like the way you write
    I enjoy your writing style
    Thanks bro

  27. Dan says:


    About Podcast 1059 feeling restless and jumpy.

    There is this guy at my workplace called Agitation Man. He’s been baptized so by a British guy that was here when we had a new printing press installed back in 2008/9.

    He’s jumpy, in fact we say he has springs under his feet, or that he’s like a grasshopper because he jumps on the machinery like a monkey.

    He has the bad habit of overdoing things and because of that he often makes some mistake / disaster.

    It is not clear what is the source of his restlessness. Rumors say he’s using drugs of some sort.

    That’s because once during a end of the year dinner this fella asked to another dude ” light stuff or heavy”, meaning drugs. Keep in mind his father has been in jail. Apparently for dealing with stuff.

    Anyway, just a little story of one of the funny characters bringing some fun into the workplace with their attitude.

    have you guys heard about Jeff’s twitching eye ? Ewww I do not wanna see that.


  28. Parviz says:

    Hi Peter,
    I have learning from you and others.
    The first time I got here, three years ago, I was just an outsider, wondering what you guys were doing here.
    At the time you, Peter, were like a hero to me. I Remember, I would duplicate some of your posts and showed them in the class
    to my students, exemplifying you as a passionate writer.
    I have noticed that you have an instinct power for writing, and I have always wanted to be like you, pure and natural.
    Your lengthy posts sounded way out of my head, at the time, I needed to look the difficult words up in the dictionary.
    Though I try very hard to catch up to you, it seems you are going very fast (in fact shooting up).
    Of course Jeff and Lucy never should go unmentioned on this matter.
    They helped me a lot more than any one alive.
    I was never able, and will never be to thank them for help.

  29. peter says:

    Hi Parviz,
    I don’t know about any of those.
    I m blushing 🙂
    Dude ,u r giving me way more credite than I deserve. I m over in my head with your kind words.
    U know , reading well into your comment , I still didn’t know whom the dude is that you are referring to. I wish , I were just one of the things u lined up on your comment for me.
    Thanks for the vote of confidence. Thanks for the support bro
    Thanks for the encouraging words.
    I m all welled up chum.
    I m just trying my friend.
    That is all.

    Pete , a lad from south end of Ontarion

  30. emiliano says:

    Sutisha, thank you so much for your good wishes for Cuca, my dear wife, she is always present
    in this Blog despite she doesn´t know English enough to write or to read, but I traslate to her
    nearly everything I could ses could be interesting for her.

    I have to find more time to read and write once again in the Blog, as I have been doing for nearly
    seven or eight years before, just since the first one till this of today.

    Thank you again Sutisha, you are relly kind with us.
    May I ask you where are you from?
    Could be from India?, your beautiful name sounds so to me, sorry if I am wrong.


  31. emiliano says:

    Dan, Peter, and other, how are you guys?

    It seems to me you are O.K., aren´t you?


  32. Dan says:

    Hi Emi,

    Please do something to make our dear Betty or LiLi coming back!

    Use your super powers/ connections.


  33. emiliano says:

    I´ll try Dan, be sure. emi

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