1. nickbedford
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    nickbedford Member

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    Captilise rank and titles?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by nickbedford, Mar 29, 2010.

    I have some military ranks used in my dialogue such as:

    “What did you see, Private?” he asked.
    “Couldn’t tell, sir. It wasn’t human, I can say that much,” Private Eun said.
    “Right away, sir,” confirmed the private.


    However, I'm not entirely sure as to whether I always capitalise the rank or only when used with a name. For example:

    "What did you see, private?" he asked.
    "Couldn't tell, sir, I can say that much," Private Eun said.
    "Right away, sir," confirmed the private.


    Can someone enlighten me on this?
     
  2. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your first set of examples looks right to me. I think you need to capitalize the rank/title unless it's preceded by the word "the".
     
  3. nickbedford
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    nickbedford Member

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    Thanks. It seems to be when the rank is used as the identifier or before their name.

    "Get over here, Private?"
    "Yes," said the private.
    I believe Private Randall was in charge, sir.
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just a note addressed particularly to British/International English speakers on the forum. My father is a retired British Army officer, and when writing out reports he was taught at Sandhurst to capitalise ranks ONLY when the name was appended.
    Therefore, it would always be:
    'Come over here, private.' Not: 'Come over here, Private.'
    But:
    'Come over here, Private Ryan.'

    It's not common to address people using a generic term in the British Army, though. We'd say: 'Come over here (please)' to a 'soldier' (usually referred to as a 'gunner' 'sapper', whatever) or 'Please come over here, sir.' to an officer.

    Note to anyone wondering about other 'titles' and honorifics--the Wikipedia examples are incorrect in saying that terms of nobility are capitalised. They aren't, unless you are giving the specific title, like a name, as in the military examples I give above.
    So, it's not:
    'Here you are, Your Lordship.' It must be: 'Here you are, your lordship.'
    But:
    'Here you are, Lord Cothering-Hythe' or 'Please invite His Royal Highness the Prince of Mecks-Foathing-Badensmeck.'
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Your second example is the correct one. When ranks are given in the context of a complete rank and name then they are capitalized just like any other title.

    He is Corporal Brian Smith
    She is Colonel Leena Jones


    But when the words are used away from their forms as complete titles, then no.

    The corporal was in the office listening to a briefing given by the colonel.
     
  6. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yikes, I should've researched before responding to the OP! Thanks for the clarification, Wreybies! :)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    mad and wrey are right...
     

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