British English: article ("the") before a team name?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Gavril, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Hello,

    My understanding is that it's not correct to say "The Spurs" or "The Rangers" when referring to the British football teams: you're supposed to leave out the article entirely and say "Spurs" and "Rangers". On the other hand, some teams seem to have the article as a normal part of their name: e.g., "The Whites" (Leeds Utd.), though I'm not sure if that nickname is used as regularly as Spurs/Rangers.

    Is there any predictability to whether a British team has an article in their name or not? E.g., did there use to be a convention that articles should be avoided in proper names, and therefore only (relatively) newer nicknames would have one?

    Thanks for any help
     
  2. Bevj

    Bevj Allegra Moderata

    Girona, Spain
    English (U.K.)
    I don't know if there is a set rule or not.
    Manchester United - United
    Aston Villa - The Villa
    Arsenal - The Gunners

    Maybe when the nickname is a shortened version of the actual name, there is no article (e.g. Manchester United) but when this is not the case (e.g. 'The whites', 'The Blues'), the article is necessary.

    (I personally would say 'The Spurs).

    This is a guess on my part, wait and see what others think!
     
  3. moomin78 New Member

    London
    English - British
    I am also not sure if there is a set rule or not, but I would never use the definite article with proper names (You wouldn't say The Rangers or The Liverpool or The Tottenham Hotspur etc.) and I agree with Bevj that you wouldn't use the definite article with nicknames where these are shortened versions of the proper name (United, Villa, Spurs, Palace etc.).

    I also agree that you would use the article when it is a nickname that isn't just a shortened version of the name (e.g. The Blues (Chelsea), The Canaries (Norwich), The Tractor Boys (Ipswich Town) etc.)

    As a Londoner I have to disagree with Bevj on Spurs! I would never call them The Spurs and have never heard them referred to that way. But then that accords with not using the definite article with shortened versions of the proper name.
     
  4. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    As you will be aware, English use of the definite article was not based upon football clubs. The above suggestions are good:
    Usually no article is used for reference to the club by its full name.
    Usually the article is used with the nickname - all English clubs have a nickname (sometimes known only to the fans ;)).

    Be aware of "Yes, I know Houston Dynamo, but they are not exactly the Manchester United of the USA, are they?
     
  5. Bevj

    Bevj Allegra Moderata

    Girona, Spain
    English (U.K.)
    Not being a Londoner I will bow to your better knowledge :) I must say that I would still be inclined to ask 'How did the Spurs get on today?' ;)
     
  6. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I've known quite a few Spurs supporters, but I don't recall any of them using the definite article in this way. I've often heard "How did the Arsenal get on?" from those who follow the club; the inclusion of the definite article seems to be a sign of endearment. In post 2, you talk about "The Villa". I have heard this, but I often hear it omitted (and omit it myself): "Did Villa win?" Perhaps "the Villa" indicates endearment in the same way as "the Arsenal" does. Usage may vary from region to region.

    I think the inclusion of "the" would sound very strange before the names of certain clubs (eg I don't recall ever hearing "the Forest", except as a way of maintaining the rhythm in songs), so I believe there is no predictability here.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  7. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    Wales
    British English
    Here's my contribution.
    If the name is a nickname, it's usually the. So West Bromwich Albion are the Baggies and Shrewsbury Town are the Shrews. However, for Wolverhampton Wanderers it's Wolves and not the Wolves. Don't ask me why. It just is. No one calls them (the) Wanderers.
    I'd say Spurs. I'd go as far as to say that the Spurs is wrong. I don't think I've ever heard it.
    I'd say Villa, although I have heard the Villa.
    It's always Town, County, Wednesday, City and United.
    I agree with sound shift about Forest and I agree with Bevj about colours.
    I've heard the Arsenal but only rarely and not recently. I suppose arsenal is an ordinary noun apart from being the name of a football team.
    Peterborough United are the Posh.
    Personally I'd say Rangers and Rovers.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  8. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Really? That must have changed since my young days then.
     
  9. Bevj

    Bevj Allegra Moderata

    Girona, Spain
    English (U.K.)
    Yes, I'm a Midlander myself and have always heard 'the Villa', 'the Wolves' and 'the Blues' (Birmingham City). Also 'the Albion' but 'West Brom' without 'the'.
    I think the conclusion is that although we can give some sort of guidelines, there seem to be many regional differences.
     
  10. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    Wales
    British English
    I'm a Midlander myself and I've never heard the Wolves. But of course, I can't argue with those who have. I suppose it ought logically to be the Wolves. It's an identifiable group of people like the Rams (Derby County) and the Blades (Sheffield United).
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  11. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    I'm going to agree with you and sound shift about Forest and Wolves.
     
  12. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    Wales
    British English
    On reflection, I suppose I'd chant Up the Rovers/Rangers/Villa/Albion [and OK, even the Wolves] because that's the rhythm but I'd say How are Rovers etc. getting on?
     

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