English as a Second Language/The definite article

Advertisement


Question
Dear Shannon,

Please read this:

"There are about eighty pyramids known today from ancient Egypt. The three largest and best-preserved of these were built at Giza at the beginning of the Old Kingdom. The most well-known of these pyramids was built for the pharaoh Khufu. It is known as the 'Great Pyramid'."

(1) Ancient Egypt (no article - country name - proper noun)
(2) The pharoh Khufu (with article - person's name - proper noun)

Could you please explain the grammarical rule(s)?

Thaanks & best regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

Answer
#1 is as stated, but #2 isn't just a name (a proper noun) nor is it exactly a title.  Yes, it is true that we would say "built for Queen Elizabeth" or "President Obama," but here the author chooses not to say "Pharaoh Khufu", which is also possible.  In this case, "pharaoh" isn't such a common title these days, so he prefers to emphasize the fact that Khufu was one of many of the "pharaohs."

You will always find exceptions to capitalization and definite article rules in English. Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters

English as a Second Language

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Shannon Cole

Expertise

I can answer questions related to learning the English and Spanish language.

Experience

I have taught ESL and Spanish since 1998 at the university and middle school levels. I am a native of the U.S., and have taught in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Organizations
I am owner and operator of www.coleinstitute.com, an online language school.

Publications
Georgia TESOL in Action (1999)

Education/Credentials
B.A. in Spanish; M.Ed. in Language Education

Past/Present Clients
I have clients worldwide, some who want their documents proofread, and others who take lessons with me through the Internet. Some work at high-profile companies and government organizations. Besides the U.S. and Mexico, my recent students come from South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.