Definite or zero article before names of ships, yachts, etc.

Kaytsan

New Member
Russian
Hello!

I wonder if I should put "the" when writing a name of a ship or a yacht. What is the rule in this case?
"Titanic" or "The Titanic"
"Zephyr" or "The Zephyr"

Thanks much in advance!
 
  • Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi Kaytsan, there's a useful section on "Articles with Miscellaneous Proper Names" here (source: usefulenglish.ru), and some insightful comments on this forum (source: encyclopedia-titanica.org). If the ship's name includes the word "The", the rule generally established practice is that it shouldn't be omitted, though sometimes for reasons of style, a writer will omit it, especially because it cannot possibly lead to any confusion, as here (source: dailymail.co.uk).

    In addition, "The Titanic" is probably something of an exception as everyone has heard of it, and the film was called "Titanic", not "The Titanic". Alas, the power of the big screen and the global entertainment industry is greater than that of the generally established practice.
     

    Kaytsan

    New Member
    Russian
    Hi Kaytsan, there's a useful section on "Articles with Miscellaneous Proper Names" here (source: usefulenglish.ru), and some insightful comments on this forum (source: encyclopedia-titanica.org). If the ship's name includes the word "The", the rule generally established practice is that it shouldn't be omitted, though sometimes for reasons of style, a writer will omit it, especially because it cannot possibly lead to any confusion, as here (source: dailymail.co.uk).

    In addition, "The Titanic" is probably something of an exception as everyone has heard of it, and the film was called "Titanic", not "The Titanic". Alas, the power of the big screen and the global entertainment industry is greater than that of the generally established practice.
    Thank you for your elaborate reply!
    I knew about this usefulenglish.ru section before, but, unfortunately, didn't find anything about vessels or boats...
    Anyway, your explanation is rather convincing:)
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    In addition, "The Titanic" is probably something of an exception as everyone has heard of it, and the film was called "Titanic", not "The Titanic".
    I agree. It's so well known that people refer to it as if it were a person.
    John died a few years ago.
    Titanic sank in 1912.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It has long been normal to call boats by their name, without an article. For example, Erskine Childer's 1903 novel The Riddle of the Sands refers to the protagonist's yacht as "Dulcibella", not "the Dulcibella". Similarly, the 1951 novel The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat recounts the travails of the crew of HMS Compass Rose and she is referred to as "Compass Rose". Getting right up to date, this Royal Navy web page calls HMS Dragon "Dragon" - HMS Dragon roars again | Royal Navy.

    Articles are used, too. As Enquiring Mind mentioned, it is common to see "the Titanic". There is also a well-known 1960 film "Sink the Bismarck!"
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    Should you feel a need to write a Wikipedia article, their guidelines say:
    Do not use the definite article ("the") before a prefix or when introducing a ship for the first time; e.g., at the beginning of the lead section:

    HMS Victory was ... not The HMS Victory was ...

    Generally, a definite article is not needed before a ship's name, although its use is not technically wrong:

    Victory was Nelson's flagship ... (preferred)
    The Victory was Nelson's flagship ... (not recommended)
     
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