EnglishClub
Home Learn English Teach English MyEnglishClub Home Learn English Teach English MyEnglishClub
Joe's Cafe
EnglishClub : Joe's Cafe : The King is dead. Long live the King!

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:
‘The king is dead. Long live King Edward.’
‘She told me Captain Lorca read the book. The captain could read.’

I am referring to the same king in the first sentence, and to the same captain in the second.  Why wouldn’t both be capitalized? Thanks for your help. I have no rule to follow with this problem.”

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.

  • My taxi-driver could speak English
  • The waitress was tall.
  • Our doctor is nice.
  • The pilot spoke to the passengers.
  • Do you know the president?
  • The captain could read.

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:

  • The Prime Minister met the King last night.
  • Who is the King’s doctor?
  • The doctor prescribed some medicine.
  • There are many presidents in the world.
  • He is the president of this company.
  • The President wants to see you now.
  • Who will be the next president?
  • Who is the king of this country?
  • What is the King’s name?
  • The Titanic sank in the Atlantic. The Captain went down with the ship.
  • President Hu Jintao is General Secretary of the Communist Party of China.

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:

  • Would you like to be a king?
  • Yesterday I met two kings and a president.
  • There were some kings at the meeting.
  • Each ship has a captain.
  • This hospital has twenty doctors.

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

  • Queen Elizabeth
  • President Obama
Joe | Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 | Filed under Writing

78 Responses to “The King is dead. Long live the King!”

  1. Wajdi Gary says:

    I learned a lot from this lesson.. Thanks A Bundle!

  2. Linda k (Hollywood) says:

    Hi everyone
    ” The king is dead” Is the announcement of
    monarch who has just died.
    “Long live the king” refer to the heir who is
    immediately the successor to the to a throne upon
    the death of the preceding monarch.

    “The king is dead.Long live the king”
    (French:Le roi est mort,vive Roi)

    Best wish
    Linda k (Hollywood USA)

  3. Linda k (Hollywood) says:

    The king is dead is the announcement of monarch
    who has just died.
    Long live the king refer to the heir who is
    immediately the successor to a throne upon the
    death of the preceding monarch.

  4. fa says:

    ……… ‘When we do this everybody knows exactly (WHO or WHOM) we are talking about’

  5. Vespid says:

    Good day !
    And good lesson , the king is dead , Long live Vespid …. aha ha …
    every one have a nice day !
    (China )

  6. Jackie says:

    This is common mistakes, we are used to ignoring!!

    Good lesson

    The King is dead, Long live the King

  7. JUASHO says:

    i didn’t understood anything

  8. Duy says:

    Thanks Budle, it’s good lesson

    have a nice day, evry one

  9. BADRIA AL-MUTAIRI (kw) says:

    Hi all,

    I only wants to Thank u for this lesson.

  10. yara says:

    This lesson is really benefited me a lot since my major is TEFL.

  11. Anushka says:

    THis was a great lessons. The king is dead, after that long live King Edward was confusing.

    thanks for explaning

  12. Mohammad Rawoof says:

    the lesson was really helpful for improving writing skills, I would suggust including a paragraph, letter or a story as well to such lessons for readers to read so that it will be found more interusting.

    Thanks,

  13. Christian says:

    Thank you
    that lesson is very useful

  14. Whatever You want says:

    I don’t remember when I join Englishclub.com but Lucky I have joined here
    maybe 8,9 years ago I have used chat room and I have know a lot of foreign friends and than I have improved and learn too much things about I would like to say thanks ur lessons are very useful…
    now I have a lot of friend in all of world!
    I feel so popular =)

  15. faraf says:

    the club is a good idea

  16. Koteswara Rao says:

    Excellent.This is what I am searching for.Thank you.

  17. Long Nguyen Huu says:

    Pls help me to learn E!

  18. Keogh says:

    Thanks a lot. The lesson was useful. Now I get it whwhwh.. Thanks Again ^^

  19. veareak says:

    please show me how to be a good writing in English?

  20. david says:

    Sorry!,…. i didn’t understand!!!
    Somebody can explain me!!…tnks

  21. Karina says:

    It is a very good lesson.
    Thank u.
    K

  22. Eric says:

    Thank you ! very interesting !
    We have to write : the king of Morocco or The King of Morocco???

  23. MRM says:

    what funny attractive lesson like killing Kings and Presidents OBAMA,
    thanks to all

  24. jirik says:

    Thank you;)

  25. Nidhi says:

    I can’t beleieve it The school is almost over.

    How to make this sentence correct punctuation wise? Do I put an exclamatory mark after both it and over?

    The T in the will become a lowercase..pl help

  26. Phorntita says:

    Hi! Everyone
    I’m a new comer to this site. I choose to read this topic of Writing in Joe’s Cafe, the reason is that I’m interested in Writing and need much progress in developimg it.
    Phorntita

  27. Ty says:

    Well, English is life long learning,and take your time.

  28. ekasofia says:

    thank you for you lesson..
    it really help me to understand
    i’m a new comer to this site n i really need to progress my english..

  29. ekasofia says:

    thank you for you lesson..
    it really help me to understand
    i’m a new comer to this site n i really need help to progress my english..

  30. Connygiwa says:

    I’m new comer. It’s really a good site for me to learn English. Now I know how to use the captial words. Thanks all.

  31. Anonimo says:

    Pen3 y ping@ a todos ustedes weones

  32. Rasika says:

    It is a very good lesson. This helpful to improve English writing.

  33. apple says:

    I think there are no rules in large and small letters, except for President Obama. these things are more flexible. But if we could use them more regularly, why not? thanks a lot, good lesson.

  34. Snow says:

    Thanks. That’s very helpful, solving the question I had had in mind for a long time.

  35. abdul says:

    i am new comer on this site . i want to improve my writting skills soo plz gimme a suggesation about this thanx.

  36. Ha says:

    Good lesson

  37. Mairan says:

    it was good man.. i liked it..continue please thank you

  38. Judie says:

    It is very useful with me. Thanks …

  39. elisha says:

    well, i dont know the reason but i know how to use it.

  40. Viviana says:

    Thank you so much. By the way I want to ask you about nationalities?, like peruvian, indian, colombian, it should be capitalized too?
    Thanks again

  41. naidu says:

    sss

  42. rawad says:

    it is very successful lesson, there are many points i did n’t know
    thanks

  43. ziz says:

    pleas i am search speak any one in englesh
    pleas help me

  44. ziz says:

    any one here

  45. Anne says:

    I actually didn’t know exactly when you write capitals or not.

    Very helpfull lesson.

    But indeed @Viviana,
    Should nationalities be capilized too?

    Thanks!!

    (Holland)

  46. noha says:

    Hi, how you all????
    I am New member in English club. I’m 25 years. Am from Saudi Arabia, but now I am studing English language in United state in Boston. I want to speak English with your help And therefore participated in the englishclub :)

  47. farh jama says:

    Hi, I ama a new comer, and I really need help to write good English.
    Everytime, I try to write something my teacher returned me and said please go back you home-work and correct you mistakes. Although , Iam not good in writng and you can see how bad my writeing is ,I would like to do something better.Please help me becasue I need you help.

  48. Dimitar says:

    Hallo!
    I wish to communicate online with a intermediate learner to improve our language together!
    My skype is mitko1752
    Thank you in advance. :)

  49. Imtiyaz says:

    hi this is the guest to ur site and want to learn english writting so any one can reply me on imtiyazb786@yahoo.com

  50. yusanjan says:

    it si really good lesson for me

    Thank you

  51. potato says:

    internet is so wonderful to learn english , thank EC

  52. Zeidan Banat says:

    Thank you so much for this lesson. It is so benfefitial for students. I hope you give some kind of advice of how to teach writing for secondary students.
    Thanks in advance

  53. David Toan says:

    Hi! Every one.

  54. farah jama says:

    Hi, today is my second time in this site and Iam really encouraging my fried’s sugestion saying ,” hey let’s talk together and I think he or he means by onle sorry my ugly hand writing.

  55. vizimax says:

    thumbs upppp

    :)

  56. awea says:

    thx, good lesson

  57. agyo says:

    i don’t think about this story

  58. amine says:

    hi everyone, im samir , im from morocco , im taking english classes in hcc florida. Im a new comer here,and im looking for friends, from all over the world to speak english…. good luck everyone. my skype is: samir_bendriss

  59. manjula prasad says:

    i am learning english but i have no know teachers so i try to do my best in this web side.i think i can learn very well without teachers .i can do what i want .this the good way.i belive

  60. Ahsan says:

    Its really an intresting lesson and i hope it will help me in improving my writing skills.

    thanks

  61. yona says says:

    it’s a good lesson
    thanks

  62. ly says:

    thank you very much! it is useful for me.

  63. Robin says:

    Thanks for EC Website and Josef Essberger..
    I was so glad to come here..
    Let’s study together..

    Best Regards
    Robin Guo

  64. than quoc hiep says:

    hi …every one !
    i’m from vietnamese.now i’m a student .the major to learning for me very need English languese after go out school.so then i’ll joined in the club.i’ll to do anything to improve ENGLISH skill but not success.i’m hope that the club is helping me .special speaking and written skill
    thank you ! have a nice day !

  65. twfeeq says:

    Writing correctly is not an easy things, It is ruled thing. I used to write and to read comments here but I afraid that some of writers have written their comments with lot of mistakes, It may be has a negative influence on others writings, I wish if we have here a correction tools look after this mistakes not for spelling rules only but for grammar’s mistakes also.

  66. Nasser says:

    Dear friends,
    My name is Nasser and i live in Netherlands.
    I would like to improve my writing skills and get correspond with native speaker. I have a dream to write my own story in English one day.
    I genuinely inspired by this website.
    I have already tried to get contact with native speaker, but I don,t seem to be able to get through with them. I hope I can finally find some natie English speaker.
    Do you have any clue?
    How can I improve my writing skills.
    Kind regards,
    Nasser

  67. jupiter says:

    hi! i come from vietnam,i want to join in club and i hope people help me to my english is improved!
    thanks!

  68. jupiter says:

    please, help me improve speaking skill! i am very bad speaking,so how must i do to improve speaking?
    thanks

  69. Jock Lee says:

    it is very good lesson, I like it very much.

  70. Mahhhgolll says:

    I got it.Thanks a lot dear Mr.Essberger.

  71. Askar says:

    Hi, I need to improve my english and reasing writing skills. Any one willing join in my network. we can do hopefully. Askar

  72. krishna says:

    i have a bundles of entusiasm to learn english

  73. Venus fx says:

    Hi! I’ve found the website greatly helpful! I’ve been always referred to as a girl with weak vocabulary! But I won’t backdown because Iam enthusiastic and passionate about learning English!

  74. Jorge says:

    Thanks, it was very helpfull.

  75. Nick says:

    Thanks , great job… best wishes from Romania…

  76. Masood says:

    Thanks for the lesson
    It’s the rule of grammar to capitalize The King or The President if we use their names. But the truth is that the most of them doesn’t deserve it.

  77. Tahereh says:

    Hi, dear Joe
    Thanks for your the best answer. I read it and enjoy.

  78. Lầu Anh Tuấn says:

    The story is great. I really love it!

Leave a Comment

Privacy & Terms | Contact | Report error
© 1997-2014 EnglishClub