Help with using the word "the"

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
Post Reply
Sommer Leigh
Moderator
Posts: 1624
Joined: April 2nd, 2010, 11:07 pm
Location: Omaha, NE
Contact:

Help with using the word "the"

Post by Sommer Leigh » August 14th, 2012, 8:55 am

Of all the boring words in the English language, I need some advice on the word "the". Figures.

In my superhero novel I have a lot of named artifacts created by a mad scientist-esque character. The Raven is a glider, The Nevermore a steampunk-esque ship, The Wand, a weapon. Up until now I've been writing a capital "T" The in front of the words, but it looks funky when I use the term over and over again. I'm not sure I'm doing it right. I discuss The Wand often as it's a major catalyst for the events of the story. Seeing the "the" capitalized so much looks so weird.


Here's a real example from one of my chapters:

A snap and rumble echoes from the main deck and before I can react The Nevermore lurches sickeningly starboard.

Should it be written as is and the "The" capitalized throughout the book, or should it be written as:

A snap and rumble echoes from the main deck and before I can react the Nevermore lurches sickeningly starboard.

Does it matter as long as it's consistent? If that's the case, which do you prefer? I don't know the rules on this one. I have more than 65,000 words written and I'm starting to think maybe I need to make a decision.
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

User avatar
klbritt
Posts: 119
Joined: February 2nd, 2012, 11:16 pm
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Contact:

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Post by klbritt » August 14th, 2012, 9:43 am

I believe if the name of the ship or the wand is supposed to be The Nevermore, then type it as such. But if it's actually named Nevermore, then leave the "the" without a capital T.

~Kristie
~Kristie

-: Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read - Groucho Marx :-

http://www.BKRivers.blogspot.com

User avatar
Hillsy
Posts: 303
Joined: December 9th, 2009, 4:33 am
Location: Gravesend, UK
Contact:

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Post by Hillsy » August 14th, 2012, 9:53 am

If it's a quirk or affectation I say keep it - both versions of the sentance work fine for me, it just alters the stressing I 'hear' in the sentence when I read it. I think you can stick with either as long as your consistent.....Only other thing I can think of is to apostrophise (?) it...sooo...

A snap and rumble echoes from the main deck and before I can react 'The Nevermore' lurches sickeningly starboard.

Doug Pardee
Posts: 146
Joined: February 18th, 2011, 6:56 pm
Contact:

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Post by Doug Pardee » August 14th, 2012, 11:05 am

The case of the vessel is easy. It's "the Nevermore", with the ship's name in italics. Ship names are always italicized and capitalized (Chicago Manual of Style 16e, section 8.115), and almost never contain the word "the" as part of the name proper. If it did contain the word "the", then "the" will also be capitalized and italicized. Descriptive terms like HMS, SS, USS, etc. that accompany the name are not italicized.
Last edited by Doug Pardee on August 14th, 2012, 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Post by polymath » August 14th, 2012, 11:12 am

Prescriptively, use of the for vessel names is covered in style manuals. As a formal style recommendation, an initial cap on the is used only as part of the formal name of a vessel or whatever, signaling, in fact, The is part of the name. Sentence case notwithstanding.

Discretionary capital case signals emphasis, like italics case, bold case, "air" quote brackets. Repetitious emphasis blunts the power of emphasis.

As a discretionary use, I think emphasis would become disruptive with frequent repetition. I'd ask, if the capped The isn't part of the vessels' names, the weapon's name, what rhetorical purpose do they serve. I would be unsettled until I figured them out or was shown why. If why is not given artfully and soon, I'd feel like a minor but nagging dramatic complication hadn't been finalized by the outcome at the end of the novel.

Three different item names with capped The in their names would be a little too much calling undue attention for my sensibilities. The second principle of writing, after facilitate reading and comprehension ease, is vigorously avoid reading and comprehension ease disturbances; in other words, challenges to willing suspension of disbelief. Repetitious emphasis invokes such challenges, making readers aware of a writer's hand on a narrative's throttle.
Spread the love of written word.

User avatar
dios4vida
Posts: 1119
Joined: February 22nd, 2010, 4:08 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Post by dios4vida » August 14th, 2012, 3:18 pm

So yeah. The rules have been pretty well covered. As to personal preferences, I feel like having 'the' capitalized all the time is awkward as well. I would do just about anything to keep having a formal 'the' at the front of my items. If it's purely down to stylistic choice, I'd leave it lowercase.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

User avatar
Mira
Posts: 1354
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Post by Mira » August 15th, 2012, 1:23 am

I'd like to chime in and agree with not capitalizing it. It's somewhat distracting. The eye skips over the word 'the', but if you capitalize it, the eye stops and says "what is this capitalized 'the'? Better it not be capitalized and stay invisible, imho.

Interesting question!

Sommer Leigh
Moderator
Posts: 1624
Joined: April 2nd, 2010, 11:07 pm
Location: Omaha, NE
Contact:

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Post by Sommer Leigh » August 17th, 2012, 8:32 am

Thanks everyone, you confirmed my gut!
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

JohnDurvin
Posts: 160
Joined: January 11th, 2011, 3:56 pm
Location: Atlanta, Jawjuh
Contact:

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Post by JohnDurvin » August 25th, 2012, 1:09 am

See, I'd always been taught that you don't capitalize 'the'. To take an example at random, if you're talking about the Washington Monument, I'm not sure how you could say the word 'the' is or is not part of the name--it's the proper name of the object, so the article wouldn't be part of it. So unless the villain, when talking, would say something like "that's my ship--that's my The Nevermore", it wouldn't be part of the name, and therefore it wouldn't be capitalized. ...Right?

As for italicizing names of ships, I'd take a look at some other works that include ship names and see if they do it; personally I get really sick of it, since it always make the names of the ships seem extra important when they aren't really. (From a purely stylistic standpoint, I'd italicize if there's only one or two ships, not if there's dozens.) I'm not a fan of using apostrophes (or single-quotes) around ship-names either, because to me it makes the name seem like a tacked-on nickname--makes me think of somebody doing quotation marks with their fingers.
Everybody loves using things as other things, right? Check out my blog at the Cromulent Bricoleur and see one hipster's approach to recycling, upcycling, and alterna-cycling (which is a word I just made up).

lindsayB3462
Posts: 21
Joined: August 25th, 2012, 7:44 am
Contact:

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Post by lindsayB3462 » September 4th, 2012, 5:46 am

The post was helpful. I was trying to know about the articles for few days. But I always don't follow the grammatical rules with THE. Sometimes, It happens to be very important trigger in the writings.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot] and 3 guests