Joe's Cafe, 24/7 pit stop for ESL learners and teachers | June 2009
Egg's off, bacon's off, bread's off, tea's off. English is on though.
The King is dead. Long live the King!
I received the following question from Jeanette about using capitals:
“I am a writer and always have problems with the following:
It’s a good question, with (quite) a simple answer.
In the case of “King Edward” and “Captain Lorca” we are using a person’s name. As you know, names in English are always capitalized. We write Edward, not edward. We write Lorca, not lorca.
When we also use a title with a name, we capitalize the title too. So we write King Edward, not king Edward. We write Captain Lorca, not captain Lorca.
But when we use the title just as a common noun, there is usually no need to capitalize it.
Just occasionally we may use an initial capital to show respect for a specific person with a very high title such as king or president. Usually this is when there is only one such personage (in a country, or perhaps in a company or ship). When we do this everybody knows exactly who we are talking about - it is like using the person’s name. Look at these examples, which show specific titles (capitalized) and non-specific titles:
This is also a question of style, and some writers might capitalize when others might not. When we are writing about a title or titles in general there is almost always no need to capitalize. Almost all writers would agree on the following examples:
So Jeanette is perfectly correct to write “The king is dead. Long live King Edward.” And the title of this post is also correct “The King is dead. Long live the King!”)
The important thing to remember is that when you use a title + name, they must both be capitalized
Joe | Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 | Filed under Writing
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