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Should a location such as east or west be capitalized in a sentence?

Example: The committee members voted on a new law that would affect the east.

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It depends on the context.

"North", "south", "east", and "west" can be used to refer to particular directions. In this context, they are referred to as "cardinal directions" or "cardinal points". They are not capitalized. For example:

"My compass indicated that we were travelling north."

These words can also refer to a specific area or region. In this context, they are almost always preceded by an adjective, especially the definite article "the". In this case they are capitalized. For example:

"We are travelling to the South."
"My friend returned from his trip to the Far East."

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