Apt use of articles before proper nouns

irjemmy

Senior Member
English
Hi all,

Someone originally wrote

"After the World War II, the working environment changed."

I edited away the definite article "the" because the syntax of the sentence is 'wrong'. But I'm not sure how to articulate this mistake - if there is one in the first place!

Or is it simply a matter of writing style, the use of articles before nouns, proper or otherwise?
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi jemmy

    My answer: we don't use articles before proper nouns unless

    (1) the article is part of the name (and then it's capitalised):
    I buy The Times every day.
    (2) We're referring to a group with the same name:
    I went to visit the Smiths
    (3) the proper noun is a brand name:
    I'll have a Glenfiddich.

    That list is probably woefully incomplete....

    PS: I was right - I've just thought of another:D:
    We went to the McDonalds on the corner.
     
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    irjemmy

    Senior Member
    English
    Hi Loob,

    Thanks plenty! Those are great illustrations.

    So we would use the the definite article in

    "He was attached to the MIT School of Engineering in America"

    where the (very) specific faculty plus institution is mentioned

    but not here

    "He was attached to MIT in America"

    where we simply use the abbreviation of the institution.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Actually, I think your "The MIT School ..." example is slightly different. Here, the noun is being used as a modifier of another noun:

    The famous School of Engineering
    The oldest School of Engineering
    The London School of Engineering
    The MIT School of Engineering.

    So the article isn't really attached to "MIT", it's attached to "School"....
     
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    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Hello,


    The Second World War or World War II

    It sometimes happens that an adjective particularising a noun, i.e. the one that makes it definite, comes to be placed after the noun in which case the definite article precedes the adjective, not the noun. In this case the adjective is treated rather as a permanent epithet of noun it modifies than a simple ordinal adjective. Compare the names of sovereigns: Henry the IV, James the II.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi Thomas

    I would say World War II as "World War Two" - that's why I wouldn't put an article before it.

    (But I agree with you about the names of sovereigns: James II is indeed read as "James the Second".)

    EDIT: this doesn't quite make sense now Thomas has edited his post - but never mind, I'll leave it:D
     
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    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    PS: I was right - I've just thought of another:D:
    We went to the McDonalds on the corner.
    And that's because there are many branches of McDonalds, so the definite article is defining. It is the one that is on the corner. If it was a shop, say, Bailey's, which is unique, you would never say I am going to the Bailey's, even if you wanted to say where it is: I'm going to Bailey's on High Street.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Hi Thomas

    I would say World War II as "World War Two" - that's why I wouldn't put an article before it.

    (But I agree with you about the names of sovereigns: James II is indeed read as "James the Second".)
    Thanks, Loob, I must've confused something, :eek: I've corrected my post.

    I'm wondering if the omission of the definite article may be explained by the fact that there's an ellipsis of No.: World War No. Two?
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I don't think there is grammatical ellipsis, it's simply not necessary to put "number" in front of numbers. But doesn't the II (or 2) after a war really mean "the second"? If "II/2" means "the second" then "the" goes with "second" and not "war". Ordinals (with "the") commonly appeared after the noun in the past (e.g. "Rights of Man: Part the First"). This is still the case with the names of monarchs (and other names, such as Loudon Wainright III), and "the" moves with the ordinal. This seems to me to be what is going on in "The Second World War", so that "WWII" is "World War The Second", but as it is no longer idiomatic to say this (apart from in the above exceptions), we say it as "World War Two".
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    It may not be necessarry to do so in English, but without it a cardinal number sounds unidiomatic in many other languages. I'm mentioning this because it may well have been the case in English too, but since today it's quite flexible in such matters, i.e. you skip some information without its becoming less comprehensible, the 'number' may be omitted. Anyway, many forum members while writing in the forum will say for example: in post #7. The hash indicates precisely the word 'number'. The name 'World War Two' has, I think, become a sort of 'fixed', so this is what you will use most often, but 'World War No. 2' is not impossible, (whatever the reference and number of the war in question):
    World War (No.) II (or World War Two)
    1919 Manch. Guardian 18 Feb. 10/2 (heading) World War No 2. [...]
    1945 Duke of Bedford Let. 16 Apr. in B. Russell Autobiogr. (1969) III. i. 44 You will have to postpone your visit until the brief interlude between this war & world-war no 3. 1947 Time & Tide 29 Nov. 1269/2 The despair and cynicism that followed what it has now become fashionable to call World War One. 1948 N. Wiener Cybernetics 7 When I came to the Institute after World War No. 1 [etc.].
    OED
     

    irjemmy

    Senior Member
    English
    Thanks Loob and co. for all the insightful chat on the subject, picked up a fair bit.


    cheers,

    Jemmy
     

    irjemmy

    Senior Member
    English
    Sorry to dredge this up again, but in

    This is where there is a need to have bodies such as AAOIFI and the Malaysian-based Islamic Financial Services Board.

    we leave out "the" before the acronym AAOIFI and keep the definite article before the board?
     
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