Earth vs. The Earth

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hydsky

Senior Member
korean
Even though the Kepler Spacecraft has not found a planet similar to Earth, it has found data on possible planets outside the solar system.
The Kepler has recently found over 300 candidates for planets, the smallest being roughly the size of Earth.

As I understood, it has to be "the Earth" when it is about a planet in a solar system, and "Earth" when we describe it as "the world" we're living on.

So, my question is... should I put 'the' in front of 'Earth' in the sentences above?
 
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    There have been prior threads on this subject. I would not put "the" in this context. If you look up a list of our planets it gives: ....Venus, Earth, Mars.... without the article.
     

    hydsky

    Senior Member
    korean
    Quick question, though.
    Beyond Mercury are Venus and Earth, whose sizes are about the same. Mars, considerably colder than Earth, is the last planet before the asteroid belt.

    In these sentences, you'd also consider leaving 'the' out, right?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Earth is its name. Do you call people "the John", "the Mary", "the Park Geun-hye"? The second sentence in your quotation is odd. It should start "Kepler ...." for the same reason.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    The second sentence in your quotation is odd. It should start "Kepler ...." for the same reason.
    I disagree. Saying just "Kepler" would make it sound as if a person named Kepler was involved. Calling the spacecraft "the Kepler" is like saying "the Titanic" or "the Enterprise."
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I disagree. Saying just "Kepler" would make it sound as if a person named Kepler was involved. Calling the spacecraft "the Kepler" is like saying "the Titanic" or "the Enterprise."
    No, it's "the Kepler Spacecraft", it's not a ship with "RMS Titanic" or "USS Enterprise" painted on the side. Apollo 11 went to the Moon, not "the Apollo 11". It seems that the authors of the Wikipedia article agree with me
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler_(spacecraft)
    Kepler is a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. The spacecraft, named after the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler, was launched on March 7, 2009.
    as does the official NASA Kepler website at http://kepler.nasa.gov
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    There are some who claim that when referring to the planet Earth you should not use "the".
    However, the use of "the Earth" is well established when referring to the planet. I defy anyone to produce evidence that Earth is more common than the Earth (except, of course, when the planets are listed together).

    The most interesting thread I have read on this topic is http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1042609.

    The only conclusion it seems possible to reach is that there is no fixed usage. The only caveat is that since I am not an astronomer, I don't know whether they usually talk about Earth's orbit or the Earth's orbit, but this is not of much relevance to ordinary usage.

    A typical sentence from the Philip's Atlas of the Universe:
    "A casual look at Jupiter through a telescope is enough to show that it is quite unlike the Earth or Mars."

    "Most of our knowledge of the Earth's interior comes from studies of earthquakes."
    (Patrick Moore's Data Book of Astronomy, Moore and Rees 2011)

    Another quote from Unveiling the Universe (an Introduction to Astronomy) by J E van Zyl, 1996:
    "The greatest difference between the Earth and the other terrestrial planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars and the Moon, is the water and ice which the Earth possesses."

    "Only one terrestrial planet, Earth, is known to have an active hydrosphere." (Wikipedia)
     
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    srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    e2efour said:
    I defy anyone to produce evidence that Earth is more common than the Earth (except, of course, when the planets are listed together).
    I haven't thought very hard about what might make this Ngram useless, but it is supposed to show how often "the earth" occurs in books against how often "earth" is used when it is not preceded by "the".
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    It is worth considering what function "the" is performing. In "The meteor flew past the Earth." "the" is a demonstrative adjective, hovering in meaning between "this" and "that." It has a slightly emphatic nuance of "the one we now bring to mind" This leads subjectively to "that is our home. / where we are, etc."

    "The meteor flew past Mars and Earth." reduces Earth to the broader status of 'just another planet' and away from the personal connection to a more objective nuance.

    However, I doubt that many make the small distinction consciously.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I suspect that there is a difference between BE and AE.
    If you look at the following ngram, you see little difference between "past the Earth" and "past Earth".
    But change it to British English (2009), and there is a difference.

    https://books.google.com/ngrams/gra...rl=t1;,past the Earth;,c0;.t1;,past Earth;,c0
    Agreed there is a difference, but using the (2009) filter gives very low numbers. In the drop down list there are other selections for AE and BE which give much better numbers and more meaningful results.

    By the way, my earlier comment about not using "the" related to the specific context of this thread and not the general issue of using the article which has, as panjandrum pointed out, been covered pretty thoroughly before.
     
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