The Sun, the Earth, and the moon

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jc26

Member
Korean
Examples:

A. The Sun is at the center of our solar system.
B. The sun is at the center of our solar system.
C. Sun is at the center of our solar system.

Question: I'd like to know which of the above examples you like most and whether any of the examples has any problem.


Examples:

D. The Earth revolves around the Sun.
E. The earth revolves around the Sun.
F. Earth revolves around the Sun.

Question: I think all of the examples are valid, but I was told that, when refering to our planet, it is best to use the last expression, F. Do you guys agree?


Examples:

G. The Moon is Earth's only natural satellite.
H. The moon is Earth's only natural satellite.
I. Moon is Earth's only natural satellite.

Question: I think H is the only valid expression. Do you concur?
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I have a problem with using "Earth" with a capital "E". The same goes for "Moon". It is "a" moon. As a result, I would uncapitalize all of the "names" and use the article in all cases ie:

    "The moon is the earth's only natural satellite" and
    "The earth revolves around the sun" (it is "a" sun)

    Notwithstanding the "naming" issue, you need the article.
     
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    jc26

    Member
    Korean
    As a result, I would uncapitalize all of the "names"
    But the following sentence looks awkward:

    The planets in our solar system are Mercury, Venus, the earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

    Or should I say:

    The planets in our solar system are the mercury, the venus, the earth, the mars, the jupiter, the saturn, the uranus, and the neptune.
     
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    PMS-CC

    Senior Member
    I have a problem with using "Earth" with a capital "E". The same goes for "Moon". It is "a" moon. As a result, I would uncapitalize all of the "names" and use the article in all cases ie:

    "The moon is the earth's only natural satellite" and
    "The earth revolves around the sun" (it is "a" sun)

    I disagree. For me, the names of celestial bodies are proper nouns, even if they require an uncapitalized article. So, I'd go with "The Sun, the Earth, and the Moon..."

    I appreciate the fact that the Moon is a moon, but we only have one: the Moon. Likewise, there may be a thousand suns visible in the nighttime sky, but the one that shows up during the day is the Sun, not a sun.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I disagree. For me, the names of celestial bodies are proper nouns, even if they require an uncapitalized article. So, I'd go with "The Sun, the Earth, and the Moon..."

    I appreciate the fact that the Moon is a moon, but we only have one: the Moon. Likewise, there may be a thousand suns visible in the nighttime sky, but the one that shows up during the day is the Sun, not a sun.
    Agree with you entirely, PMS.
    Dimcl, I'm surprised by your usage.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    But the following sentence looks awkward:

    The planets in our solar system are Mercury, Venus, the earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

    Or should I say:

    The planets in our solar system are the mercury, the venus, the earth, the mars, the jupiter, the saturn, the uranus, and the neptune.
    Here is something I have just found on the BBC website, perhaps it will be of some interest:
    The number of planets around the Sun could rise from nine to 12 - with more on the way - if experts approve a radical new vision of our Solar System.
    [...]
    The IAU draft resolution recognises eight "classical" planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - three "plutons" - Pluto, Charon and UB313 - and the asteroid Ceres.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4795755.stm
    It's curious that one uses the definite article with Earth when not mentioned with all the rest of plantets of the Solar System, but this is not the case with other planets.:confused:

    Tom
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't think we always use the definite article with "Earth".

    The astronauts successfully returned to Earth.

    Nobody is sure how many manmade satellites are orbiting Earth.


    Your point is interesting, though. We never say "the Saturn", do we?

    I suppose it's because we have "Earth" and "earth" and use of the definite article helps to differentiate sometimes, in speech, and when we don't use a capital letter for "earth", meaning "the planet Earth". I hope that makes sense.
     

    Wobby

    Senior Member
    English [England]
    Perhaps we use the definite because if we take the whole world's worth of earth and clump it together (with a fair bit of water) we have the Earth as we know it... so the earth, with the 'the' being used to suggest it is the collective of all earth, forms the Earth? But as Saturn is not made from the saturn, it is not the Saturn? Besides, the others are names, so the definite article cannot be used, whereas the Earth was named because of earth I think? Of course, all speculation... :)
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    But the following sentence looks awkward:

    The planets in our solar system are Mercury, Venus, the earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

    Or should I say:

    The planets in our solar system are the mercury, the venus, the earth, the mars, the jupiter, the saturn, the uranus, and the neptune.
    I knew darned well that my opinion was going to stir up controversy.;)

    Here's my take on it. Yes, the names of the "other" planets are "names" and, as such, don't require the article. The fact is, though, that we specifically named them as they were discovered. We didn't name the sun or the moon or the earth. We call it "the earth" because in our language over millennia, that's what we mean - the pile of dirt we live on. I don't believe that there was a conscious naming going on. Back in the mists of time, when it was unknown by most people that there were even other places besides the few square miles of earth that they resided on, there was no committee struck to give those individual places a name.

    The same argument goes for the sun and the moon. If the first astronomers had consciously decided that those orbs in the sky should be named Sun and Moon, that would be one thing. I think, however, that those first astronomers simply recognized them as a sun and a moon and the words stuck.
     

    Waylink

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    The words Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are always used as proper nouns. For example, Mercury is one specific planet and its name is Mercury.

    All of those planets' names are always capitalized, have no plural form, and are not used with a definite or indefinite article.

    The word 'earth' is used differently from the other planets in that:
    -- it may be capitalized or not
    -- it is often referred to with the definite article "the earth"
    -- it does not have a plural form (at least not in general English).

    The word 'moon' is also different from the above in that:
    -- moon is a type/class of spatial object, not specifically a proper noun;
    -- moon can be pluralized: moons;
    -- the earth's moon has a special status in English and is generally preceded by the definite article because it is implicit that of the many moons in the solar system, we are talking about the (earth's) moon;
    -- in some contexts, moon will be pluralized because we are talking about various moons;
    -- in some contexts, moon will take an indefinite article, even though we are referring to the earth's moon;
    -- moon is usually written in lower case even when referring to the earth's moon;
    -- moon may be written in lower or upper case when referring to the earth's moon.


    Examples of wrong (or extremely unusual) usage:

    X: The Jupiter is an important planet.
    X: The astronauts visited a Mars.
    X: We live on an earth.

    Examples of correct usage:

    Jupiter is an important planet.
    The astronauts visited Mars.
    We live on earth.
    The planets in our solar system are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
    Several planets have moons.
    Earth has a moon.
    Some moons are very small but earth has a large moon.
    The moon (the moon that orbits Earth) is about 150000km from Earth.
    The Moon is not far from Earth.
    We must protect earth's ozone layer.
    We must protect the earth's ozone layer.
     
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    Wobby

    Senior Member
    English [England]
    I knew darned well that my opinion was going to stir up controversy.;)

    Here's my take on it. Yes, the names of the "other" planets are "names" and, as such, don't require the article. The fact is, though, that we specifically named them as they were discovered. We didn't name the sun or the moon or the earth. We call it "the earth" because in our language over millennia, that's what we mean - the pile of dirt we live on. I don't believe that there was a conscious naming going on. Back in the mists of time, when it was unknown by most people that there were even other places besides the few square miles of earth that they resided on, there was no committee struck to give those individual places a name.

    The same argument goes for the sun and the moon. If the first astronomers had consciously decided that those orbs in the sky should be named Sun and Moon, that would be one thing. I think, however, that those first astronomers simply recognized them as a sun and a moon and the words stuck.
    So you would form the list of planets with the Earth being the only one with a lower case initial letter? The reason I tend to stick to the convention of the capital letter for Earth is a) it allows the distinction between the soil on the ground and the planet - hence you are able to say "all the earth on Earth"; b) even if the name came to pass from being made of 'earth', it is now the name we give our planet, and if it is a name, it should have a capital letter; and c) the Earth isn't just made up of the earth, it is made up of other things too, such as water, hence every time you referred to Earth as the earth, you would have ambiguity. Although, I guess the counter argument is that we still use the definite article - if we were truly to adopt it as a name, we wouldn't have it. :)

    I would also give the Moon a capital letter, as it is our moon, a special moon, and not just any moon, as has been mentioned before. If I never wanted to use the capital letter, I would refer to it as the Earth's moon (hmm... but then comes the problem of not capitalising the E again). But it's all preference really, everyone has their own convention, and none are theoretically better than any other. Except the use of capitals does seem to be predominant! ;)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm finding this question really difficult.

    Capital letters for Sun and Moon and Earth when they're proper nouns, yes. But when are they proper nouns? I wouldn't dream of writing "the Sun was shining" and yet it's the same astronomical body as the thing (technical term I plan to use again, sorry) which is the centre of the solar system.

    First tentative answer: they're proper nouns when we're thinking of them in astronomical terms, but not when we're thinking of them as things which shine on us/things which we stand on.

    That would give "the sun/moon rose at six o'clock" and "what on earth were you thinking of?" but "Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto" - sorry, Pluto's not considered a planet any more, is it?

    But in practice, I don't think that, even when I'm referring to celestial bodies, I use capital letters in all cases.

    Second tentative answer: this may be an area where usage is changing, and capitals are becoming rarer...

    Looking at jc26's examples:

    A. The Sun is at the center of our solar system.
    B. The sun is at the center of our solar system.
    C. Sun is at the center of our solar system.
    By the logic of my first tentative answer, I'd say A. By the logic of my second tentative answer, I'd say B. I can at least confirm I wouldn't say C

    D. The Earth revolves around the Sun.
    E. The earth revolves around the Sun.
    F. Earth revolves around the Sun.
    This time, I've got three possible answers, D (in line with first tentative answer), E-with-lower-case-sun (in line with my second tentative answer), and F. I think I only say Earth-without-an-article when I'm contrasting it, explicitly or implicitly, with other planets in the solar system. But I really don't know.

    This is the most frustrating post I've ever written :(

    I hope someone comes along soon and explains me to myself.
     
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    jc26

    Member
    Korean
    Amen to you, Waylink. It seems like we can write a book on the usage of... these... things in space.

    Thank you all for your opinions.
    English is an intriguing language, and it seems to me that I can write however I want and I can always justify my writing!

    Dimcl, can you please tell me what on the earth is going on?:)
     
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    Wobby

    Senior Member
    English [England]
    There's no real problem with having your own conventions, just as long as you know that there is a standard convention that is worth adhering to at times (well most of the time). I, for instance, capitalise school subjects, even if that is not the norm. Furthermore, I realise that fragmented sentences may be frowned upon. But that shall not stop me from writing them! ;)

    I would almost always use capitals for the planets, even in everyday instances such as "The Sun is looking rather bright today." The only exceptions would be in set phrases, such as "What on earth...?"/'down to earth', adjectives like 'sunny', and when the indefinite article is required, e.g. "It's a full moon tonight!" :)
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I would almost always use capitals for the planets, even in everyday instances such as "The Sun is looking rather bright today."
    Now, I find that really odd! I doubt that most people (even those who believe that "Sun" should be capitalized) would use the capital in your sentence (a la Loob).

    Given that you are using the name of the heavenly body, ("Sun"), why then would you use "The"? Why not "Sun is looking rather bright today". Would you also say "The Mars is quite visible tonight"?

    Since we always use "the sun" (capitalized or otherwise), it seems to me that we can't consider it a name.

    This is my logic for the moon and the earth. When speaking of earth/Earth, we would normally use the article ie:

    "The earth's rotation is XYZ per month" OR
    "The earth's crust is XYZ miles thick"

    For example, we wouldn't use "the" when referencing the other planets ie:

    "Jupiter's roation is XYZ...." OR
    "Jupiter's crust is XYZ miles thick"
     

    branchsnapper

    Member
    English - South England
    Google corpus linguistics doesn't help us too much here, but it is interesting if you put in "next to the sun". Speaking of clouds and such, there seems to be a tendency for no capital S, but speaking of things in space to use one.

    The best answer here for me is that all versions that native speakers have given the thumbs up here are probably OK, but that capitals much more likely - perhaps necessary - when speaking about astronomical topics, and unlikely when talking about mundane, everyday topics.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    This is the most frustrating post I've ever written :(
    That's pretty much how I felt reading it;)

    How much easier life would be if we were to adopt the current vogue usage among science fiction writers which (practically) dictates that Earth/earth/the Earth be named Terra, that moon Luna, and the big yellow jobbie Sol.
    These names always sound to me like they were dreamt up by a committee in Brussels.
     

    Wobby

    Senior Member
    English [England]
    Now, I find that really odd! I doubt that most people (even those who believe that "Sun" should be capitalized) would use the capital in your sentence (a la Loob).

    Given that you are using the name of the heavenly body, ("Sun"), why then would you use "The"? Why not "Sun is looking rather bright today". Would you also say "The Mars is quite visible tonight"?

    Since we always use "the sun" (capitalized or otherwise), it seems to me that we can't consider it a name.
    Well, I guess it could be to do with the fact most of the subjects I studied were sciences... But I figure that if I'm going to follow a convention, I may as well stick with it - for instance, regarding the Sun, it is still the sun in our solar system we are referring to, and no other, hence I do not make a distinction. As I mentioned in my previous post, the problem with the definite article probably arises from the etymology of the words...

    But given the distinction that arose between the Earth (which consists of earth and water) and the earth (which consists only of earth), to me, it became recognised as a name, despite the definite article. Regarding the Sun and the Moon, I use capitals as if they are titles, identifying them as a special sun and moon - this practice is still around in terms of religious texts (e.g. the Father, the Son, etc.) - for example, if you were to refer to the instance of the Man in the Moon, you may use capitals to identify it as being not just any man (namely because it is not a man in the first place). If you wrote the man in the moon, it could just be conceded as being a particular astronaut sitting in a rather deep crater. I do not do this with others, as they are names, hence there is no need. Saturn isn't a 'saturn' for instance, hence there is no more than one, so you can not make out this planet in our solar system to be 'the Saturn'. :)

    Like ewie says, it would be easier if we actually gave them distinct names, but the use of Sun, Moon and Earth is so ingrained in everyday usage that it is not likely to happen. By the way, how would you transcribe a spoken sentence such as "There are 8 planets in our solar system, and Earth is the third from the Sun." Would you simply use lower case letters anyway, and add in the definite article?
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    By the way, how would you transcribe a spoken sentence such as "There are 8 planets in our solar system, and Earth is the third from the Sun."
    Erm, I'd transcribe it exactly like that, Wobby.
    (But maybe I'd write eight instead of 8.)
     

    Wobby

    Senior Member
    English [England]
    Oops, sorry, I was addressing that question at Dimcl, but I'm glad to know that you pretty much write it the same way as I do... :D
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    By the way, how would you transcribe a spoken sentence such as "There are 8 planets in our solar system, and Earth is the third from the Sun." Would you simply use lower case letters anyway, and add in the definite article?
    Yes, that's exactly how I'd say it. To be honest, "and Earth is the third from the sun" sounds mighty unnatural to me. I honestly can't imagine hearing anybody say it the way you have. It would be "the earth".
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I think there is nothing wrong with the phrase, except that the Sun should be capitalized. This was always the case in American Astronomy books, at least.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Sun, moon and earth should be capitalised where the context either requires or would be aided by it.

    The earth is fertile = the soil is fertile
    The Earth is fertile = The planet Earth is fertile.

    The sun's gravity keeps the planets in orbit. = of any solar system anywhere
    The Sun's gravity keeps the planets in orbit. = of our solar system

    The moon has no atmosphere = any moon anywhere
    The Moon has no atmosphere = our Moon.
     
    Sun, moon and earth should be capitalised where the context either requires or would be aided by it.

    The earth is fertile = the soil is fertile
    The Earth is fertile = The planet Earth is fertile.

    The sun's gravity keeps the planets in orbit. = of any solar system anywhere
    The Sun's gravity keeps the planets in orbit. = of our solar system

    The moon has no atmosphere = any moon anywhere
    The Moon has no atmosphere = our Moon.
    Excellent distinctions, Paul Q!
     

    blomst

    Senior Member
    Norway, Norwegian
    Hi

    I know there have been questions asked already about earth and the earth, but all the answers just confuse me, I still do not get it. Could anyone just tell me whether there should be an article(the) in the second part of this sentence or not? "The population on earth grows quickly, and at one point, earth would not have enough space for everyone. (The population on earth grows quickly, and at one point, the earth would not have enough space for everyone.)

    And, the British Council says: We use capital letters for planets – but not the earth, sun or moon.
    • Mercury is closer to the sun than the earth is.
    (http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/grammar-reference/capital-letters-and-apostrophes )

    but others say one should use a capital letter when referring to earth (the earth?) as a planet? :confused:
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    Excellent distinctions, Paul Q!
    I second that. Moreover, I would accept "Earth" as well as "the Earth" in an astronomical context. Even Jesus dropped the definite article on occasion:
    Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. Lk 21:33

    (Hmmm... the article is present in the original Greek, suggesting that its presence or omission in English has been discretionary for a very long time...)
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    This is another on of those questions that essentially involve style, i.e. arbitrary rules imposed or suggested by whoever is paying the bills or correcting students' papers.

    The style guide used by U.S. newspapers says to capitalize "Earth" as the name of a planet.

    The dictionary attached hereto is ambivalent.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    So did Satan, it was common practice in the Bronze Age, and it's good to see God and Satan agree on something :D:

    Job:2:2: ... And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    sdgraham is quite right. There is no rule, only guidance from various sages. However, the main question is, "Is the context helped by capitalisation?" [...]
     
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    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I also agree with SDG [post #29]: It's all very well folk saying The British Council says XXX or The Chicago Style Manual says YYY ~ the fact remains that there's no single Authority On English (like the Académie Française etc.) ... and even if there was, people would still ignore it.

    It's all down to your own personal style ... or the style of whoever's paying the bills, etc.
     
    Regarding Blomst's other question in post 27: Could anyone just tell me whether there should be an article(the) in the second part of this sentence or not? "The population on earth grows quickly, and at one point, earth would not have enough space for everyone. (The population on earth grows quickly, and at one point, the earth would not have enough space for everyone.)"

    Another legitimate question, and trying to ignore capitalization here, difficult for me to do, my first reaction would be to say that in the first part we are presented with a preposition- then- planet, etc, and now I will capitalize here, as in "the astronauts landed on Earth, on Mars, on Venus" and would not in fact use the article, any grammar rule now escaping me, whereas in the second part we are now faced with naming the planet, do we attach an article or not, "earth grows quickly, the earth grow quickly."

    I would use "the Earth" in the second part, and always "the Moon" not "Moon" as in the Eiffel Tower, not "Eiffel Tower" which, by the way, would look jarring to me uncapitalized.:D
     

    šeherezada

    Senior Member
    croatia croatian
    Hi!

    In my little grammar book "English in Use" by Raymond Murphy I found the following rule:
    "In general we do not use the with names of airports, stations and many other important buildings: Kennedy Airport, Westminster Abbey, Lonson Zoo, Vistoria Station, Cambridge University, Edinburgh Castle.
    But we use the with names of most hotels, museums, theatres and cinemas.
    Buildings that have the: The Empire State Building, the White House, the Eiffel Tower.

    In the case you mention I would also put the because you are mentioning "earth" again in the text and because it sounds better. :) Also I agree that because of the preposition "on" you can't use "the".

    Bye
     

    Maxim Chicu

    New Member
    Russian
    I disagree. For me, the names of celestial bodies are proper nouns, even if they require an uncapitalized article. So, I'd go with "The Sun, the Earth, and the Moon..."

    I appreciate the fact that the Moon is a moon, but we only have one: the Moon. Likewise, there may be a thousand suns visible in the nighttime sky, but the one that shows up during the day is the Sun, not a sun.
    I see it that way too. I would add that the Moon and the Sun are just names for a star and a satellite. There are no other Suns or other Moons.

    <<Moderator note Edit: Maxim's revision (below) was cross-posted with Andygc, whose responded to the original,>>

    I see it that way too. But would add that in order to be clear I think it would be better to use the Moon and the Sun (with capital letters) to indicate names of "our" star and "our" natural satellite; and to use sun(s) or moon(s) (without capital letters) as synonyms for any other star and natural satellite.[/quote]
     
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    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    Given that you are using the name of the heavenly body, ("Sun"), why then would you use "The"? Why not "Sun is looking rather bright today". Would you also say "The Mars is quite visible tonight"?

    Since we always use "the sun" (capitalized or otherwise), it seems to me that we can't consider it a name.
    So the United States, the Philippines, &c, can't be considered names, either?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I see it that way too. But would add that the Moon and the Sun are just names for a star and a satellite. There are no other Suns/suns or other Moons/moons.
    You were right until you edited this post to include "suns" and "moons". There are a few hundred moons in our solar system, one of which is easily seen with the naked eye (the Moon) and several of which can be seen with binoculars. There are also probably several million suns in the Universe - that is, stars which are orbited by planets.

    <<Moderator note: Andygc responded to Maxim's original post at the same time Maxim was editing it - so both members are indeed in agreement:D>>
     
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