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
78 Responses to “The King is dead. Long live the King!”
Wajdi Gary says:
I learned a lot from this lesson.. Thanks A Bundle!
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)
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.
……… ‘When we do this everybody knows exactly (WHO or WHOM) we are talking about’
Good day !
And good lesson , the king is dead , Long live Vespid …. aha ha …
every one have a nice day !
This is common mistakes, we are used to ignoring!!
The King is dead, Long live the King
i didn’t understood anything
Thanks Budle, it’s good lesson
have a nice day, evry one
BADRIA AL-MUTAIRI (kw) says:
I only wants to Thank u for this lesson.
This lesson is really benefited me a lot since my major is TEFL.
THis was a great lessons. The king is dead, after that long live King Edward was confusing.
thanks for explaning
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.
that lesson is very useful
Whatever You want says:
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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…
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Koteswara Rao says:
Excellent.This is what I am searching for.Thank you.
Long Nguyen Huu says:
Pls help me to learn E!
Thanks a lot. The lesson was useful. Now I get it whwhwh.. Thanks Again ^^
please show me how to be a good writing in English?
Sorry!,…. i didn’t understand!!!
Somebody can explain me!!…tnks
It is a very good lesson.
Thank you ! very interesting !
We have to write : the king of Morocco or The King of Morocco???
what funny attractive lesson like killing Kings and Presidents OBAMA,
thanks to all
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
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.
Well, English is life long learning,and take your time.
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..
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..
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.
Pen3 y ping@ a todos ustedes weones
It is a very good lesson. This helpful to improve English writing.
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.
Thanks. That’s very helpful, solving the question I had had in mind for a long time.
i am new comer on this site . i want to improve my writting skills soo plz gimme a suggesation about this thanx.
it was good man.. i liked it..continue please thank you
It is very useful with me. Thanks …
well, i dont know the reason but i know how to use it.
Thank you so much. By the way I want to ask you about nationalities?, like peruvian, indian, colombian, it should be capitalized too?
it is very successful lesson, there are many points i did n’t know
pleas i am search speak any one in englesh
pleas help me
any one here
I actually didn’t know exactly when you write capitals or not.
Very helpfull lesson.
But indeed @Viviana,
Should nationalities be capilized too?
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 :)
farh jama says:
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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
David Toan says:
Hi! Every one.
farah jama says:
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thx, good lesson
i don’t think about this story
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manjula prasad says:
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Its really an intresting lesson and i hope it will help me in improving my writing skills.
yona says says:
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thank you very much! it is useful for me.
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Let’s study together..
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hi …every one !
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thank you ! have a nice day !
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.
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Jock Lee says:
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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.
Hi, dear Joe
Thanks for your the best answer. I read it and enjoy.
Lầu Anh Tuấn says:
The story is great. I really love it!