Your name is a proper noun. A proper noun is the special word that we use for a person, place or organization, like John, Marie, London, France or Sony. A name is a noun, but a very special noun – a proper noun. English proper nouns have special rules.
|common noun||proper noun|
|country, town||England, London|
|shop, restaurant||Amazon, Subway|
|month, day of the week||January, Sunday|
|book, film||War and Peace, Titanic|
Capital Letters with Proper Nouns
RULE: We always use a Capital Letter for the first letter of a name or proper noun. This includes names of people, places, companies, days of the week and months. For example:
- They like Anthony. (not They like
- I live in England.
- She works for Sony.
- The last day in January is a Monday.
- We saw Titanic in the Odeon Cinema.
In normal grammatical writing, there are NO exceptions to this rule. Sometimes, however, for stylistic reasons, people may choose to ignore the rule to give their writing a unique or “modern” look. This is typically seen in advertisements or company logos. For correct writing, and especially in exams, we recommend that you observe the rule without fail.
Proper Nouns without THE
We do not use “the” with names of people. For example:
|first names||Bill (not
|full names||Hilary Gates|
We do not normally use “the” with names of companies. For example:
- Renault, Ford, Sony, EnglishClub (not
- General Motors, Air France, British Airways
- Warner Brothers, Brown & Son Ltd
- The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd
In this case, “The” is part of the company’s name and must be capitalised, like all names.
We do not normally use “the” for shops, banks, hotels etc named after a founder or other person (with -‘s or -s). For example:
|shops||Harrods, Marks & Spencer, Macy’s|
|hotels, restaurants||Steve’s Hotel, Joe’s Cafe, McDonald’s|
|churches, cathedrals||St John’s Church, St Peter’s Cathedral|
We do not normally use “the” with names of places. For example:
|states, regions||Texas, Kent, Eastern Europe|
|countries||England, Italy, Brazil|
|continents||Asia, Europe, North America|
Exception! If a country name includes “States”,”Kingdom”, “Republic” etc, we use “the”:
|states||the United States, the US, the United States of America, the USA|
|kingdom||the United Kingdom, the UK|
|republic||the French Republic|
We do not use “the” with “President/Doctor/Mr etc + Name”:
|the president, the king||President Bush (not
|the captain, the detective||Captain Kirk, Detective Colombo|
|the doctor, the professor||Doctor Well, Dr Well, Professor Dolittle|
|my uncle, your aunt||Uncle Jack, Aunt Jill|
|Mr Gates (not
Look at these example sentences:
- I wanted to speak to the doctor.
- I wanted to speak to Doctor Brown.
- Who was the president before President Kennedy?
We do not use “the” with “Lake/Mount + Name”:
|the lake||Lake Victoria|
|the mount||Mount Everest|
Look at this example sentence:
- We live beside Lake Victoria. We have a fantastic view across the lake.
We do not normally use “the” for roads, streets, squares, parks etc:
|streets etc||Oxford Street, Trenholme Road, Fifth Avenue|
|squares etc||Trafalgar Square, Oundle Place, Piccadilly Circus|
|parks etc||Central Park, Kew Gardens|
Many big, important buildings have names made of two words (for example, Kennedy Airport). If the first word is the name of a person or place, we do not normally use “the”:
|people||Kennedy Airport, Alexander Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral|
|places||Heathrow Airport, Waterloo Station, Edinburgh Castle|
Proper Nouns with THE
We normally use “the” for country names that include “States”,”Kingdom”, “Republic” etc:
|States||the United States of America/the USA|
|Kingdom||the United Kingdom/the UK|
|Republic||the French Republic|
We normally use “the” for names of canals, rivers, seas and oceans:
|canals||the Suez Canal|
|rivers||the River Nile, the Nile|
|seas||the Mediterranean Sea, the Mediterranean|
|oceans||the Pacific Ocean, the Pacific|
We normally use “the” for plural names of people and places:
|people (families, for example)||the Clintons|
|countries||the Philippines, the United States|
|island groups||the Virgin Islands, the British Isles|
|mountain ranges||the Himalayas, the Alps|
Look at these sentences:
- I saw the Clintons today. It was Bill’s birthday.
- Trinidad is the largest island in the West Indies.
- Mount Everest is in the Himalayas.
We normally use “the” with the following sorts of names:
|hotels, restaurants||the Ritz Hotel, the Peking Restaurant|
|banks||the National Westminster Bank|
|cinemas, theatres||the Royal Theatre, the ABC Cinema|
|museums||the British Museum, the National Gallery|
|buildings||the White House, the Crystal Palace|
|newspapers||the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Post|
|organisations||the United Nations, the BBC, the European Union|
We normally use “the” for names made with “of”:
- the Tower of London
- the Gulf of Siam
- the Tropic of Cancer
- the London School of Economics
- the Bank of France
- the Statue of Liberty