Page 1 of 1

Help with using the word "the"

Posted: August 14th, 2012, 8:55 am
by Sommer Leigh
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.

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Posted: August 14th, 2012, 9:43 am
by klbritt
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.


Re: Help with using the word "the"

Posted: August 14th, 2012, 9:53 am
by Hillsy
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.

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Posted: August 14th, 2012, 11:05 am
by Doug Pardee
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.

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Posted: August 14th, 2012, 11:12 am
by polymath
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.

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Posted: August 14th, 2012, 3:18 pm
by dios4vida
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.

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Posted: August 15th, 2012, 1:23 am
by Mira
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!

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Posted: August 17th, 2012, 8:32 am
by Sommer Leigh
Thanks everyone, you confirmed my gut!

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Posted: August 25th, 2012, 1:09 am
by JohnDurvin
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.

Re: Help with using the word "the"

Posted: September 4th, 2012, 5:46 am
by lindsayB3462
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.