1. struggler
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    struggler Member

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    King or king?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by struggler, Jan 11, 2016.

    I'm just wondering about when it is right to use the word 'King' or the word 'king'? I'm working on a story that involves a king but I'm not sure when to spell it with a capital letter or not.

    I'm thinking at the moment that if I'm referring to a specific king that people in the story know about, such as 'The King', or as a title, like 'King James', I would use 'King', but if I'm just referring to kings in general, not to any particular king but the position, I'd just use 'king'.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The King of England is one of many kings.

    If you are using it as a name or a title for a specific person, then use caps. If you are using it as a noun, then no caps.
     
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  3. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    I did a bit of research, and I think it's a stylistic choice.

    Here are two examples:
    • "He strode confidently towards the King"
    • "He strode confidently towards the king"
    Both of these are correct I think, so long as you are consistent. Since King is a title, it can be capitalized as a sign of respect. An example is that in the Constitution of the United States, "President" is capitalized consistently. (source) It's a lot more common though for it to be lowercase, from what I've read, though.

    In the case of @GingerCoffee's example, I'd definitely not capitalize as it's plural, unless perhaps if the country has multiple kings (such as in an empire).
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It's basic grammar @Matt E, not style, for Pete's sake. Look it up.
     
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  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Sigh.... What do they teach in school these days? It's fine to ask. That's not the problem, we all needed to ask the question at some point in our lives.

    But to guess or just make up the answer, that's a problem.

    Capitalization rules - proper nouns and nouns
     
  6. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    I don't think it's quite that simple. Here's an article from The Guardian which capitalizes Queen when referring to a specific queen, who is the monarch for the country the article was written in.

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/dec/25/queen-christmas-message-light-darkness-tv-broadcast

    I also found other sources that say it's acceptable to capitalize when referring to high level government officials, such as kings.
     
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  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It is that simple. Are you saying you don't understand the difference between a common noun and a proper noun?

    Your first link isn't a source, it's lay opinions. The second one agrees with what I posted, proper nouns and common nouns.

    Yes, when they are names of positions. When they are names of specific people or specific officials, you capitalize the title.

    The King of England is a king.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
  8. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    From the second link:

     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    And? That's exactly what I said. That's an example of a proper noun.

    It's not a stylistic choice, it's a grammar rule.


    The King of England is a king.

    It doesn't depend on 'king' being plural in that sentence.
     
  10. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    I think we agree then. I never said that lowercase is correct when saying "John is a king," but rather that you can say "the King spoke to parliament yesterday."

    That said: can't we try and make this conversation a bit more... civil?
    I'm not making up an answer. :p I'm trying to explore the different possibilities here, so that we can understand which situations it's proper to capitalize and which not.
    Perhaps I could have been more clear. The difference that I was pointing out was not whether it's plural or not, but whether "of England" is included. So:
    • "King George visited Scotland today." (Correct)
    • "The King of England visited Scotland today." (Correct)
    • "The King visited Scotland today." (Correct)
    • "The king visited Scotland today." (Also correct, per this)
    • "A king visited Scotland today." (Correct)
    • "One of the kings visited Scotland today." (Correct)
     
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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Not trying to be uncivil. Just frustrated to hear someone say that a basic grammar question was a style choice. Capitalization of proper nouns and common nouns is settled grammar, unlike say, italics for inner monologue, which is a convention that is undergoing revision.

    But it would appear you are now posting the correct rules, so all is well again in Whoville. :agreed:
     
  12. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    I still don't think you're entirely getting my point though. I guess I'll clarify it a bit more.

    The main difference I'm talking about is between these two cases:
    • "The King visited Scotland today"
    • "The king visited Scotland today"
    There are a good number of resources that discourage capitalization in this instance, and also articles that I found in which the writer chose to capitalize the word. Here are a few examples.

    Per University of Wyoming: http://www.uwyo.edu/english/eighteenth-century-life/style_guide-4.html
    Per San Diego State University: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~mkuefler/WritingFiles/W19.htm
    However, there are many examples that counter this in professional publications, particularly in the UK, as they are subjects of a monarch themselves. Here are a few examples:
    These are all examples of where some writers are choosing to capitalize, and others not, even when in all cases it refers to one, specific monarch. So, that's why I think it comes down to choice in the case I mentioned. In cases where it does not refer to a specific monarch, it should not be capitalized, except when speaking very formally, such as in legal documents.
     
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  13. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Ok--so now I have a question about "stylistic choice." I've had the phrase thrown at me so many times that I've begun to doubt my own grammar.

    A woman in my critique group is writing a story about a mad god. Not just any mad god, but, the Mad God; there is only one mad god in the story, the others are good gods. Since the villain, Mundo (I think?), is the Mad God I always mark it for caps. BUT she insist that capitalizing is a style choice.

    In my story I have Elben, people who live along the Elbe River. It's a collective noun and I capitalize it because it is a reference to region/ethnicity. I've been told this is wrong because it's not a proper noun, but a collective noun. My thinking is that it would be capitalized in the same way I would capitalize English, if I were referring to people living in England. Please help.
     
  14. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    Can you give a more specific example of how she uses "the Mad God?" In Brandon Sanderson's The Final Empire, the antagonist is a god referred to as "the Lord Ruler," although he does have a real name besides that, which is used much less frequently.

    In the case of the Elden, it depends on how you want to set up the group. Sanderson chooses not to capitalize the "skaa" in his novels, because the characters see it more of a word akin to "slave," than they see it as an ethnic group. But if it's seen as an ethnic group, it would be correct to capitalize it.
     
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  15. GingerCoffee
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    Your second example is incorrect. The King is not a king. They are trying to say "a king" but their example is ambiguous.
    You are misreading your own citation.
    From your link:
    Then your source contradicts it's own guidelines:
    That's simply incorrect information, again because they mean "an emperor" or "a king" but their examples are poorly chosen.

    On the one hand they correctly note "parts of proper names", then they contradict their own statements: "even if it is clear you are talking about a specific person."

    Sorry, you cannot trust every source you find on the Net. That source is wrong. There is no controversy here in this case.

    In your second link, Queen is capitalized in every case because they are talking about the Queen of England in every case.

    In your first link I have no clue which word you are referring to, neither queen nor king is in the article except: "performing for the Queen during a state visit " and the Queen is capitalized.

    This is grammar 101. No one discourages proper capitalization or non-capitalization of proper and common nouns.

    Where there is ambiguity is in some names such as in my novel where I have groups of people with specific names, 'tressers' and 'off-griders'. On the one hand they are specific names of groups of people, like 'hippies'. But on the other hand they are not proper names like 'Americans'. I've chosen to use the names as common and not proper names.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If "Mad God" is the name of the god, like, "I call myself, Mad God," then it is capitalized. If mad god only refers to the kind of god it is, even if there is only one of them, then it is, mad god.
     
  17. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    From inside the circle, Guy, a priest of the mad god challenged him, "Fight me if you dare."
    Outside Girl called, "No minion of the mad god can stand against me and my spear. Prepare to die!"

    OK--real world time here . . .
    The Vikings came down the dNieper and the Volga, capturing Slavs, which they sold as thralls. The word 'slave' derives from the word 'Slav' because Slavs were often sold into slavery. If I am referring to Slavs wouldn't I always capitalize that because it is a reference to their ethnicity independent of the fact that my Slavs are slaves?
     
  18. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    For the example you mentioned of mad god, I think the way that she capitalizes it is reasonable. Although, I can't help but mention that every time I hear "mad god" I think of "mad dog." :p

    Also, @GingerCoffee makes a good point in mentioning hippies. I think it's your choice as to whether Elden should be capitalized or not.

    I see what you mean, and you do have a point. I don't think the example "The king visited Scotland" is grammatically incorrect, but it does hold a subtly different meaning from "The King visited Scotland."

    Just to establish things: I found several quotes from Well of Ascension by Sanderson that use king with a lowercase k. Here they are:

    I didn't find any quotes that used an uppercase K, except when used directly as a title, such as "King Cett."

    The difference here I think is that by saying "the king," you put more emphasis on the position, while saying "the King," puts more emphasis on the man, who happens to hold the title. Here are two examples that I think makes the difference clearer:
    • "If we dismiss the guards, the king may be assassinated."
    • "If we dismiss the guards, the King may be assassinated."
    In the first example, the meaning is closer to "If we dismiss the guards, our nation may be without a king." The second sentence has a meaning along the lines of "If we dismiss the guards, the man who is now king may be killed." The difference is subtle though, and in most cases either would probably make sense.
     
  19. Shadowfax
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    1/ If you're talking about the King of England, or the King of France, or the King of Anywhere, and then go on to say "The king visited Scotland", you're introducing a lack of clarity, in that you're no longer talking about the King of England (etc.) but about some unspecified king that hasn't been mentioned before.

    Therefore, "The king visited Scotland" is tantamount to "A king visited Scotland".

    2/ The distinction between these two sentences is that the uncapitalized version is OK if it's a philosophical discussion about the circumstances in which the king/a king/any king may be assassinated. If we're talking about a real, live king, he's always capitalized.

    And just because Sanderson declines to capitalize doesn't make it right.
     
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  20. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    “The president puked on the Japanese prime minister.”

    This indicates that an unspecific president puked on an unspecific Japanese prime minister.

    “The President puked on the Japanese Prime Minister.”

    This indicates a specific president expelling his lunch onto a specific prime minister.

    “The king is coming to battle!” is an easy thing to overlook, but with grammar rules, the word 'king' is a placeholder over the man's name. It should really be “The King is coming to battle!” The same would be said if the title and name were addressed, “King Richard is coming to battle!”
     
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  21. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    "The king is coming to dinner," Jack exclaimed excitedly.
    "Capital or lowercase?" Jill asked.
    "Lowercase," Jack replied.
    "Hmm, mystery guest," Jill mused. "Wonder who he is and if he has any food allergies."
    Just then Jim ran into the room and stopped to catch his breath before shouting, "The King is coming to dinner!"
    "The King, with a capital letter," Jill asked.
    "Absolutely," Jim said.
    "Awesome," Jill replied. "I'll get the ouija board. No one's talked to Elvis in ages!"
     
  22. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    KhalieLa, good to hear from you again!

    Came up in my WIP and the convention I used to capitalize it when associated with his name (King Vima Kadphises) and lower case when referring to the "the king". In address I used initially "Saoansao," in Bactrian, immediately translated as "King of Kings" , then thereafter "Your Excellency. (Capitalized)" Of course there are no documents on Bactrian court protocol, so I can make up what I want. "Saoansao" is cognate to the modern Farsi "Shahanshah," the title of the late Shah of Iran.
     
  23. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    'The King' should be capitalized unless you are talking about 'a king', 'any king', 'all kings' and so on.
     
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