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I'm wondering if I have to use "the" before the name of a war or not.

Example:

"in the World War I" or "in World War I"

"in the World War II" or "in World War II"

"in the Civil War" or "in Civil War"

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  • The rule here is basically the same as for any other noun: if it's a proper noun (like World War I) then it doesn't get an article. If it's a non-proper noun, maybe with an adjective, then it needs an article, because war is countable: the Crimean War, the War of 1812, etc. – stangdon Jul 23 '18 at 17:10
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Usually we use "the" as part of the name of the war but there are exceptions.

"World War One", but "The First World War"

We don't use "the" with "World War One", but we do when talking about "the first..."

Queen Anne's War, but "The War of Spanish Succession" (1705-1713)

Since the possessive acts as a determiner, we don't use a "the" for Queen Anne's War.

I'll mention a few specific examples of using "the" with names of wars

The war.

The refers to the last major conflict in a given context. In English speaking counties "The war" is the second world war.

The Great War

Usually the Eurasian conflict of 1914-1918

The civil war

In America this would normally be the conflict of 1861-1865 between the Northern and Southern states. In the UK this would usually be conflict of 1642-1651 between parliamentarians and monarchists.

Note that when used like an adjective, we drop the "the"

The auction had some civil war armor on sale.

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