Author Topic: a capitalization problem: King or king  (Read 125825 times)

Offline Ri

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a capitalization problem: King or king
« on: September 02, 2009, 12:51:49 AM »
Hello everyone.
First off, I'm new to this site and I'm young so forgive me if I break any forum unspoken rule things...
Anyways...

As I write I am constantly unsure when I should capitalize words such as king and queen.
I know that you should capitalize those titles when they are replacing a name, but when exactly is that?

I am never sure whether I am using the title as a description or in place of a name. What I mean by that, is that I get confused when, for example, the king does something. Would I capitalize it because I am using it in place of a name, or not because I am using it as an adjective, like how I would write, 'the man'?

For example, in the following sentences when would I capitalize king?

1. The king looked out over his men and smiled.

2. 'Hello,' said the king.

I know this must seem really obvious, but it's really confusing me. If anyone could please help me, I'll be really, really thankful!

Thanks for taking the time to read this! And more thanks if you give me an answer!
~~ And in those deepest hours

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Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: a capitalization problem: King or king
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2009, 01:49:49 AM »
Hey sarahry, no you aren't breaking any rules. I can't answer your question, so if you don't mind, I'll wait here with you for an answer.
Welcome to the Circle. Did you stop by the "Welcome board and introduce yourself? Anyway we'll see what our teachers come up with on this question.

Skip
MWC Glossary --> http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=41276.0

Offline flying tart

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Re: a capitalization problem: King or king
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2009, 04:58:54 AM »
I'd say you should capitalise in both examples because you are referring to a specific person, the King.
If you're talking about a king as a general term I wouldn't capitalise, eg. A king sits on a throne.
By the time Mozart was my age he'd been dead for twenty years.

Offline Nick

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Re: a capitalization problem: King or king
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2009, 06:51:29 AM »
I wrote about this subject a little while ago on my blog:

http://www.mywritingblog.com/writer/2006/08/capitalizing-names.html

Following the principle set out here, if you were using "King" in place of his name, you would certainly capitalize:

"What can I do for you, King?"

Though admittedly you would probably be more likely to say "Your Majesty", unless you were a very close friend or relative!

When using "king" in a more general way, lower case would be correct:

"Do you know who was the last king of England?"

When you're referring to a specific king, it's more of a gray area. Wikipedia has this to say: "Offices, positions, and job titles such as president, king, emperor, executive director are common nouns and therefore start with a capital letter only when followed by a person's name, in other words when they have become part of the name"

On the other hand, this relatively authoritative website offers the following advice: "It is common to capitalise President or King when referring to one President or King of a country, but you would refer to all the presidents or all the kings of all countries."

So, roughly speaking, in a sentence such as "Does anyone know if the king/King will be attending?" either lower case or initial capital is probably grammatically acceptable. In practice, however, an initial capital is often used, probably as a mark of respect. In any event, as a writer you would need to decide which convention to adopt and then use it consistently.

Hope that helps!

Nick  :)


Check out my writing blog at www.entrepreneurwriter.net. I also have a new UK personal finance blog called Pounds and Sense.

Offline Nick

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Re: a capitalization problem: King or king
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2009, 12:34:33 PM »
In reply to the original question, I should just add that both the examples given are correct as shown:

1. The king looked out over his men and smiled.

2. 'Hello,' said the king.

However, if you are clearly referring to a specific king, as my earlier answer indicates, it would not be wrong to capitalise 'king', as long as you did it consistently. Even so, I prefer to keep it in lower case myself.

Nick  :)
Check out my writing blog at www.entrepreneurwriter.net. I also have a new UK personal finance blog called Pounds and Sense.

Offline Symphony

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Re: a capitalization problem: King or king
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2009, 01:19:48 PM »
I agree - but as regards specific kings I'd probably use capitals:

'Hello,' said the king.

'Hello,' said the King of Darkness.

'Hello,' said King Wobbert.



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Offline Nick

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Re: a capitalization problem: King or king
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2009, 07:14:47 AM »
Definitely.

Where 'king' is used as part of the person's name, it should always be capitalised.

Good to see you on the forum again, by the way, Amanda!

Nick  :)
Check out my writing blog at www.entrepreneurwriter.net. I also have a new UK personal finance blog called Pounds and Sense.

Offline Ri

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Re: a capitalization problem: King or king
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2009, 02:16:48 PM »

So, as I understand it, either way can be fine as long as I am consistant?
Thank you all for your help and happy writing! ;D
~~ And in those deepest hours

When nary a soul's awake

I sit before my squeaking desk

And magic do I make   ~~

Offline gotpaints

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Re: a capitalization problem: King or king
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2009, 06:14:04 PM »
I'm writing a story about a queen and capitalize it when talking about her but when saying queen in general I leave it lower case.

Offline Analysis

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Re: a capitalization problem: King or king
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2009, 06:41:29 PM »
The Rule to Never Forget: Titles of people are only capitalized when they are followed by someone's name or they're being addressed by that title.

I hope that clears it up for you, Ri. :)
« Last Edit: September 07, 2009, 06:55:44 PM by Analysis »
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