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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    What are the rules for when to use "the" before a proper noun?

    What are the rules for when to use "the" before a proper noun and when "the" is not used before a proper noun?

    For example, I read somewhere passages like these:

    "We went to Windsor Castle." - Without "the" before "Windsor"

    but

    "We went to the Windsor Castle Pub." Here the Windsor Castle Pub is the name of the pub there, but now "the" is used in front of "Windsor". Could anyone explain what is the difference and what is the rule for whether to use "the" or not in sentences involving proper nouns such as these.

    Other examples of sentences are:
    "We went to the Sistine Chapel" - with "the"
    but
    "We went to St. Peter's Basilica" - without "the"

    "We stood on the brink of the Niagara Falls" - with "the"
    but
    "We planned our visit to Niagara Falls" - without "the"

    Why is "the" used sometimes and not at other times? What is the grammatical rule for the usage of "the" in these situations?

    Thanks a lot for clarifying!

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: What are the rules for when to use "the" before a proper noun?

    We tend to not use the article before proper nouns but there are exceptions. In you first example "Windsor Castle" does not take an article. In your second example, "Windsor Castle" acts as an adjective modifying "Pub". Therefore, it takes an article. With "Sistine Chapel", "Sistine" is an adjective. Therefore, it takes an article.

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    #3

    Re: What are the rules for when to use "the" before a proper noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by allan89 View Post


    "We went to St. Peter's Basilica"






    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, Allan:

    A teacher has already discussed "the Sistine Chapel."

    I have found something that may explain "St. Peter's Basilica."

    a. "When the name of a public institution begins with a genitive [possessive], the is not used."

    i. St. John's College
    ii. Brown's (Hotel)





    Authority: Quirk, et al., A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (1985).

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    #4

    Re: What are the rules for when to use "the" before a proper noun?

    But you will always see acceptable exceptions in usage.

    'Did you mean the St John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or the one in Queensland, Australia?'

  3. Piscean's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: What are the rules for when to use "the" before a proper noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    'Did you mean the St John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or the one in Queensland, Australia?'
    I think there's a St John's College in Portsmouth, too,
    Last edited by Piscean; 13-Oct-2015 at 17:45. Reason: point of post empasised

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: What are the rules for when to use "the" before a proper noun?

    There used to be a St. John's College in New York, but it is now a university.

  5. Newbie
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    #7

    Re: What are the rules for when to use "the" before a proper noun?

    Hey guys, thanks for all your replies!

    I have a follow up question on this topic
    In sentences like the below:

    a) "One of the beverages favored on New Years' Eve was White Pepper beer."
    b) "Graduates will be able to log in to the Oxford Alumni website."

    I have two questions about these two examples above:

    1) Why is the word "beer" in the first sentence not capitalized? And could it have been capitalized (and be grammatically correct)?
    2) Why is "the" used in the second sentence before "Oxford Alumni website" but not the first before "White Pepper beer"?

    Also, what about the example with "Niagara Falls", could someone maybe help explain why "the" is used in one but not the other sentence? Or was one of the sentences ungrammatical?
    Cheers!

  6. Roman55's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: What are the rules for when to use "the" before a proper noun?

    I am not a teacher.

    1) I imagine it's because the beer in question is called 'White Pepper' and not 'White Pepper Beer'.

    2) Because it's the website of the Oxford Alumni. The word 'beer' in 'White Pepper beer' is a mass noun and therefore takes no article.

    'We stood on the brink of Niagara Falls' is acceptable. I don't think the definite article is absolutely necessary.

  7. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: What are the rules for when to use "the" before a proper noun?

    I don't consider "the Niagara Falls" to be correct or common.

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