Proper Nouns (Names)
Proper nouns are specific names for a person, place or entity. The most common example of a proper noun is a person’s first name, such as Alexandra or Jaime. Another example is the name of a country such as China, Spain and Brazil. Companies such as Apple, IBM and Google are also proper nouns.
|Common Noun||Proper Noun|
|Computer tablet||Ipad, Nook|
|Street, avenue||Main Street, Elm Street|
|Man, boy||John, Samuel|
|Retail shop||Target, Wal-Mart|
|Month, day of the week||July, Tuesday|
|Publication||Miami Herald, Tuesdays with Morrie|
Proper Nouns without using the in front
When we use the names of people we do not use “the” before the name. For example:
|first names||Barack (not *the Barack)|
|full names||Steve Jobs|
If you are writing about names of companies you do not use “the” in front. Here are a few examples:
- Macy’s, Target, Wal-Mart
- Disney, American Airlines, Epson
- Skes, Florsheim, Prada
Businesses named after a person usually do not need “the” before their names. This is also the case for shops, banks, restaurants, etc. Here are a few examples:
|shops||Sears, Macy’s, Loehmann’s|
|hotels, restaurants||Mario’s, Ruth Chris Steakhouse, Houston’s|
|churches, cathedrals||St. Peter & Paul, St. Raymond’s, Church of the Little Flower|
Names of places do not usually require “the” either. Here are a few examples:
|cities||San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami|
|states||Florida, West Virginia|
|countries||Spain, Portugal, Germany|
|continents||South America, Europe|
When using designations such as President, Doctor, Mr. or Mrs. we do not use “the” unless we are using it as a common noun. For example:
|the president, the king||President Obama|
|the principal, the doctor||Principal Smith, Doctor Grey|
|the nun, the professor||Sister Mary, Professor Adams|
|the teacher, the grandmother||Mrs. Marti, Grandma Thompson|
|Mr., Mrs., Ms.||Ms. Swift, Mr. Timberlake|
Below are some examples in sentences:
- She wants to speak to the principal.
- He wants to speak to Principal Lovett.
- Did the senator replace Senator Clinton?
When speaking about lakes and mountains we do not use the:
|the lake||Lake Titicaca|
|the mount||Mount Rushmore|
- I like to travel to the mountains and have been to Mount Rushmore many times.
Streets and roads do not warrant the word “the” either. This includes avenues, parks, roads, etc.
|streets etc.||Main Street, Elm Street, Fourteenth Terrace|
|squares etc.||Times Square, Columbus Plaza, United Nations Square|
|parks etc.||Fair-child Park, Salvadore Park|
Some significant structures have names of two or more words, where the first word is in honor of a person (for example the Reagan Library). When this is the case we do not use the word “the.” For example:
|person||Bush Library, St. Peter’s Basilica, John Wayne Airport|
|places||Madison Station, Vizcaya Gardens|
Proper Nouns using the in front
If the name of the country indicates that it is a collection of states or other items you will need to use “the” in front of it.
|states||the United States of America, the United Arab Emirates|
|kingdom||the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia|
|others||the French Republic, the Dominican Republic|
Bodies of water such as canals, oceans and seas also use “the” in front of them:
|canals||the Panama Canal|
|rivers||the Orinoco River, the Rio Grande|
|seas||the Adriatic Sea, the Baltic Sea|
|oceans||the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific|
When expressing the plural of names of people and places we use “the”:
|people (families, for example)||the Smiths|
|countries||the United States|
|island groups||the Galapagos|
|mountain ranges||the Andes|
For example, read the following sentences:
- She called the Smiths last week and asked them to come.
- The Galapagos has an incredible amount of diversity.
- Many types of potatoes grow near the Andes.
There are exceptions to the rules above when it comes to banks, restaurants, buildings, etc.:
|hotels, restaurants||the Four Seasons, the Mandarin|
|banks||the Bank of America|
|cinemas, theaters||the Coral Gables Cinema|
|museums||the Smithsonian, the Met|
|buildings||the Empire State Building, the Twin Towers|
|newspapers||the Miami Herald, the Los Angeles Times|
|organizations||the League of Nations, the International Monetary Fund|
Those names that include “of” as part of the name also ask for “the”. For example:
- the Statue of Liberty
- the Bank of London
- the Strait of Gibraltar
- the Gulf of Mexico
- the Peninsula of Florida
Proper Nouns Capitalization
Do not forget that you always capitalize the first letter of a proper noun. There are no exceptions to this rule.[slickquiz id=6]