The King is dead. Long live the King!
I received the following question from Jeanette about using capitals:
“I am a writer and always have problems with the following:
‘The king is dead. Long live King Edward.’
‘She told me Captain Lorca read the book. The captain could read.’
I am referring to the same king in the first sentence, and to the same captain in the second. Why wouldn’t both be capitalized? Thanks for your help. I have no rule to follow with this problem.”
It’s a good question, with (quite) a simple answer.
In the case of “King Edward” and “Captain Lorca” we are using a person’s name. As you know, names in English are always capitalized. We write Edward, not edward. We write Lorca, not lorca.
When we also use a title with a name, we capitalize the title too. So we write King Edward, not king Edward. We write Captain Lorca, not captain Lorca.
But when we use the title just as a common noun, there is usually no need to capitalize it.
- My taxi-driver could speak English
- The waitress was tall.
- Our doctor is nice.
- The pilot spoke to the passengers.
- Do you know the president?
- The captain could read.
Just occasionally we may use an initial capital to show respect for a specific person with a very high title such as king or president. Usually this is when there is only one such personage (in a country, or perhaps in a company or ship). When we do this everybody knows exactly who we are talking about – it is like using the person’s name. Look at these examples, which show specific titles (capitalized) and non-specific titles:
- The Prime Minister met the King last night.
- Who is the King’s doctor?
- The doctor prescribed some medicine.
- There are many presidents in the world.
- He is the president of this company.
- The President wants to see you now.
- Who will be the next president?
- Who is the king of this country?
- What is the King’s name?
- The Titanic sank in the Atlantic. The Captain went down with the ship.
- President Hu Jintao is General Secretary of the Communist Party of China.
This is also a question of style, and some writers might capitalize when others might not. When we are writing about a title or titles in general there is almost always no need to capitalize. Almost all writers would agree on the following examples:
- Would you like to be a king?
- Yesterday I met two kings and a president.
- There were some kings at the meeting.
- Each ship has a captain.
- This hospital has twenty doctors.
So Jeanette is perfectly correct to write “The king is dead. Long live King Edward.” And the title of this post is also correct “The King is dead. Long live the King!”)
The important thing to remember is that when you use a title + name, they must both be capitalized
- Queen Elizabeth
- President Obama
By Josef Essberger for EnglishClub June 2009
Josef started teaching English as a foreign language in 1991 and founded EnglishClub for learners and teachers in 1997.
Lầu Anh Tuấn says:
The story is great. I really love it!
Hi, dear Joe
Thanks for your the best answer. I read it and enjoy.
Thanks for the lesson
It’s the rule of grammar to capitalize The King or The President if we use their names. But the truth is that the most of them doesn’t deserve it.
Thanks , great job… best wishes from Romania…
Thanks, it was very helpfull.
Venus fx says:
Hi! I’ve found the website greatly helpful! I’ve been always referred to as a girl with weak vocabulary! But I won’t backdown because Iam enthusiastic and passionate about learning English!
i have a bundles of entusiasm to learn english
Hi, I need to improve my english and reasing writing skills. Any one willing join in my network. we can do hopefully. Askar
I got it.Thanks a lot dear Mr.Essberger.
Jock Lee says:
it is very good lesson, I like it very much.
please, help me improve speaking skill! i am very bad speaking,so how must i do to improve speaking?
hi! i come from vietnam,i want to join in club and i hope people help me to my english is improved!
My name is Nasser and i live in Netherlands.
I would like to improve my writing skills and get correspond with native speaker. I have a dream to write my own story in English one day.
I genuinely inspired by this website.
I have already tried to get contact with native speaker, but I don,t seem to be able to get through with them. I hope I can finally find some natie English speaker.
Do you have any clue?
How can I improve my writing skills.
Writing correctly is not an easy things, It is ruled thing. I used to write and to read comments here but I afraid that some of writers have written their comments with lot of mistakes, It may be has a negative influence on others writings, I wish if we have here a correction tools look after this mistakes not for spelling rules only but for grammar’s mistakes also.
than quoc hiep says:
hi …every one !
i’m from vietnamese.now i’m a student .the major to learning for me very need English languese after go out school.so then i’ll joined in the club.i’ll to do anything to improve ENGLISH skill but not success.i’m hope that the club is helping me .special speaking and written skill
thank you ! have a nice day !
Thanks for EC Website and Josef Essberger..
I was so glad to come here..
Let’s study together..
thank you very much! it is useful for me.
yona says says:
it’s a good lesson
Its really an intresting lesson and i hope it will help me in improving my writing skills.
manjula prasad says:
i am learning english but i have no know teachers so i try to do my best in this web side.i think i can learn very well without teachers .i can do what i want .this the good way.i belive
hi everyone, im samir , im from morocco , im taking english classes in hcc florida. Im a new comer here,and im looking for friends, from all over the world to speak english…. good luck everyone. my skype is: samir_bendriss
i don’t think about this story
thx, good lesson
farah jama says:
Hi, today is my second time in this site and Iam really encouraging my fried’s sugestion saying ,” hey let’s talk together and I think he or he means by onle sorry my ugly hand writing.
David Toan says:
Hi! Every one.
Zeidan Banat says:
Thank you so much for this lesson. It is so benfefitial for students. I hope you give some kind of advice of how to teach writing for secondary students.
Thanks in advance
internet is so wonderful to learn english , thank EC
it si really good lesson for me
hi this is the guest to ur site and want to learn english writting so any one can reply me on firstname.lastname@example.org
I wish to communicate online with a intermediate learner to improve our language together!
My skype is mitko1752
Thank you in advance. 🙂
farh jama says:
Hi, I ama a new comer, and I really need help to write good English.
Everytime, I try to write something my teacher returned me and said please go back you home-work and correct you mistakes. Although , Iam not good in writng and you can see how bad my writeing is ,I would like to do something better.Please help me becasue I need you help.
Hi, how you all????
I am New member in English club. I’m 25 years. Am from Saudi Arabia, but now I am studing English language in United state in Boston. I want to speak English with your help And therefore participated in the englishclub 🙂
I actually didn’t know exactly when you write capitals or not.
Very helpfull lesson.
But indeed @Viviana,
Should nationalities be capilized too?
any one here
pleas i am search speak any one in englesh
pleas help me
it is very successful lesson, there are many points i did n’t know
Thank you so much. By the way I want to ask you about nationalities?, like peruvian, indian, colombian, it should be capitalized too?
well, i dont know the reason but i know how to use it.
It is very useful with me. Thanks …
it was good man.. i liked it..continue please thank you
i am new comer on this site . i want to improve my writting skills soo plz gimme a suggesation about this thanx.
Thanks. That’s very helpful, solving the question I had had in mind for a long time.
I think there are no rules in large and small letters, except for President Obama. these things are more flexible. But if we could use them more regularly, why not? thanks a lot, good lesson.
It is a very good lesson. This helpful to improve English writing.
Pen3 y ping@ a todos ustedes weones
I’m new comer. It’s really a good site for me to learn English. Now I know how to use the captial words. Thanks all.
thank you for you lesson..
it really help me to understand
i’m a new comer to this site n i really need help to progress my english..
thank you for you lesson..
it really help me to understand
i’m a new comer to this site n i really need to progress my english..
Well, English is life long learning,and take your time.
I’m a new comer to this site. I choose to read this topic of Writing in Joe’s Cafe, the reason is that I’m interested in Writing and need much progress in developimg it.
I can’t beleieve it The school is almost over.
How to make this sentence correct punctuation wise? Do I put an exclamatory mark after both it and over?
The T in the will become a lowercase..pl help
what funny attractive lesson like killing Kings and Presidents OBAMA,
thanks to all
Thank you ! very interesting !
We have to write : the king of Morocco or The King of Morocco???
It is a very good lesson.
Sorry!,…. i didn’t understand!!!
Somebody can explain me!!…tnks
please show me how to be a good writing in English?
Thanks a lot. The lesson was useful. Now I get it whwhwh.. Thanks Again ^^
Long Nguyen Huu says:
Pls help me to learn E!
Koteswara Rao says:
Excellent.This is what I am searching for.Thank you.
the club is a good idea
Whatever You want says:
I don’t remember when I join Englishclub.com but Lucky I have joined here
maybe 8,9 years ago I have used chat room and I have know a lot of foreign friends and than I have improved and learn too much things about I would like to say thanks ur lessons are very useful…
now I have a lot of friend in all of world!
I feel so popular =)
that lesson is very useful
Mohammad Rawoof says:
the lesson was really helpful for improving writing skills, I would suggust including a paragraph, letter or a story as well to such lessons for readers to read so that it will be found more interusting.
THis was a great lessons. The king is dead, after that long live King Edward was confusing.
thanks for explaning
This lesson is really benefited me a lot since my major is TEFL.
BADRIA AL-MUTAIRI (kw) says:
I only wants to Thank u for this lesson.
Thanks Budle, it’s good lesson
have a nice day, evry one
i didn’t understood anything
This is common mistakes, we are used to ignoring!!
The King is dead, Long live the King
Good day !
And good lesson , the king is dead , Long live Vespid …. aha ha …
every one have a nice day !
……… ‘When we do this everybody knows exactly (WHO or WHOM) we are talking about’
Linda k (Hollywood) says:
The king is dead is the announcement of monarch
who has just died.
Long live the king refer to the heir who is
immediately the successor to a throne upon the
death of the preceding monarch.
Linda k (Hollywood) says:
” The king is dead” Is the announcement of
monarch who has just died.
“Long live the king” refer to the heir who is
immediately the successor to the to a throne upon
the death of the preceding monarch.
“The king is dead.Long live the king”
(French:Le roi est mort,vive Roi)
Linda k (Hollywood USA)
Wajdi Gary says:
I learned a lot from this lesson.. Thanks A Bundle!