people lived <on the earth / on earth>

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Akasaka

Senior Member
Japanese
Hello everyone,
Do I neeed "the" between "on" and "earth" in this sentence? Whether to place the definite article before "earth" sometimes puzzles me. Is there any fixed rule? I sometime see "earth" written in the capital letter "the Earth".

The first people lived on earth about seven million years ago.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hello everyone,
    Do I neeed "the" between "on" and "earth" in this sentence? Whether to place the definite article before "earth" sometimes puzzles me. Is there any fixed rule? I sometime see "earth" written in the capital letter "the Earth".

    The first people lived on earth about seven million years ago.

    Thanks in advance.
    Yes, you need "the" in this sentence, Akasaka. As for capitalizing "Earth", some do, some don't. In my opinion, its the name of the planet so I capitalize it when I'm referring to it like this:

    "What on Earth does he think he's doing?"

    In your sentence, I wouldn't capitalize it because, in this context, you are simply referring to the globe as an entity. It's like referring to "the planets".
     

    Blue Butterflies

    Senior Member
    Romania | Romanian
    Hello.

    earth = the planet on which you are now; ground/land
    Earth = planet (Terra)

    I believe you'll keep seeing it both ways.

    The first people lived on Earth... (on this planet specifically)
    The first people lived on earth... (this one has an emphasis on the people, on the fact that they were the first people to walk the surface of the Earth)

    I would prefer: The first people who inhabited/to inhabit Earth...

    I apologise in advance should I unintentionally mislead you.
     

    i heart queso

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    Little green men landed on the moon.

    The first people lived on Earth about seven million years ago. (I coincide with capitalizing Earth here; otherwise it just means 'dirt', and doesn't refer to the planet.)
     
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