I’m editing a document and I’m getting pissed off at this “The” disease that so many people seem to have picked up – The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Ohio State University. It doesn’t matter if it’s part of the formal name. In a sentence, you treat the article as an ordinary article. Downcap it!
The AP Stylebook capitalizes the “The” in “The New York Times.” (Specifically, they say “capitalize the in a newspaper’s name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known.”) We were tested on this kind of stuff in J school. However, while I can’t find a specific cite for the Beatles or the Ohio State University, it seems to me from scanning online news sources that the lowercase the is preferred.
I’m not sure I agree with this pit. For the bands listed, “The” is part of the formal name. It is not Beatles, it is The Beatles (or The Who). However, it would be the Led Zeppelin (if you ever had cause to use it in that manner.
You are correct about the AP Stylebook rule going with a particular paper’s preference. I realized I might have been a bit unclear in my post but I was simply mentioning that The New Yorker’s stylebook choice does not capitalize or italicize “the” (of course) of any newspaper, even if that’s the way they’re known.
Did I mention I once saw the Dave Matthews Band in concert in Central Park for free?
First, I don’t agree that the “formal” name (whatever that means in this context) is “The Beatles.” They are the Beatles. The “the” is there because English grammar demands it, not because it’s a necessary part of the name.
Second, even if that’s not the case, that’s not the “the” that’s appearing in the sentence.
In a sentence, the “the” is just a definite article, not the “The” that is part of the formal name. In English we use definite articles as a function of the characteristic of the language. That the article might also be part of a formal name is secondary. So “I met the Beatles in 1964” – the “the” is necessary, because we don’t say “I met Beatles in 1964.” Add to that that English doesn’t allow for “I met the The Beatles in 1964,” and you have to drop one of the articles. The logical one to drop is the second one, because it’s not playing a necessary grammatical role in the sentence.
As Bill Walsh says: The “the” is not the “The” that’s part of the formal name. Rather, "it’s an unrelated word that, coincidentally, happened to be in the same place as an identically spelled word that often is related (and capitalized).
Third, as a side issue, entities like rock and roll bands rarely have “formal” names in the way that people do (where is the organizational charter that declares the name to be “The Beatles” instead of “Beatles”)?
AuntiePam, I fear you misunderstood my statement that the rule does not apply for titles of creative works (that are italicized or in quotation marks).
King’s novel The Stand was made into a critically acclaimed television movie.
I really like Thunderclap Newman’s song “The Reason.”
In both those cases, the “the” is not playing a grammatical role in the sentence.
But the thing is, the Beatles weren’t called “The Beatles”, they were Beatles - they consisted of four individual Beatles. John was a Beatle. Paul, George and Ringo: also Beatles. Seeing as those were all the Beatles there were, all four of them together were “the Beatles”, and not, say, “a bunch of Beatles” or “some Beatles”. Saying “the Beatles” is like saying “the Republicans” or “the Dopers.” I mean, gramatically. Beatles Beatles Beatles.