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I'm looking at the sentence "The Big E and the Topsfield Fair are coming."

These are both names of festivals. The full name of the first is "The Big E," while the latter is referred to as "the Topsfield Fair," with "the" not being capitalized. Basically, I'm wondering if you would remove "the" from "the Topsfield Fair," because the word "The" from "The Big E" carries over and modifies "Topsfield Fair." So, the sentence would read, "The Big E and Topsfield Fair are coming."

I don't believe that it should. I think in this case, the word "The" in "The Big E" is part of the festival's full name. I don't think it applies to "Topsfield Fair," because it's part of a proper noun. Does anyone know what the correct wording would be?

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    Welcome to ELL! This is an interesting question, but it involves several issues (capitalization, including articles in names, conjunction reduction, etc.), so I think that it will be hard to answer concisely. Please tell us what you already know about these issues so that whoever answers doesn't have to write a lengthy tome. Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 2:33
  • You are correct. Sometimes companies style themselves with a registered business name which includes the definite article "The". In this case it should be capitalised because it's part of the name, and it shouldn't be removed. In other cases where "the" is not part of the company name, it shouldn't really be used, although one could argue it would be optional.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 15:31

2 Answers 2

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There is quite a bit of variation in how Topsfield Fair is referred to. Browsing google, I can find "Topsfield Fair", "Topsfield fair", and "the Topsfield fair". But he closest I can get to an authoritative source is "the Topsfield Fair"

When "The" is intrinsically part of the name, it is properly capitalised. But it's less cut and dry in this case. After all "The Topsfield Fair" is the fair held in Topsfield, so it is reasonable not to capitalise it.

As such it is part of the natural variation in language, and not subject to strict rules.

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Both are correct. They have very, very slightly different connotations. First, if the second "the" was left out:

The Big E and Topsfield Fair are coming.

we should realize that the "the" at the beginning of the sentence says that there might be an implied "the" before "Topsfield Fair" anyways. So even if it should definitely be "the Topsfield Fair" and not simply "Topsfield Fair," the omission of "the" would still be correct.

To avoid this complication, let's consider a modified version of the sentence.

"The Topsfield Fair is coming."

"Topsfield Fair is coming."

or

"I am going to Topsfield Fair."

"I am going to the Topsfield Fair."

Adding "the" implies the connotation that it is the premiere fair in some sense. If you say "I am going to the fair" or "I am going to the store" this implies that there is an obvious particular fair or store that you would go to, despite the possibility of other fairs or stores existing.

If we stop here, thinking of "Topsfield Fair" as just a name for a fair, omitting the "the" seems more correct. But in this case, Topsfield is a specific location. Instead of thinking of it as a name, we can also think of it as a description: "the fair of Topsfield."

There are fairs in many towns, and the Topsfield Fair is the fair in Topsfield. Here, we use "the" because Topsfield Fair acts almost as a stand in for "the fair of Topsfield," and it would be incorrect to say "I am going to fair of Topsfield."

So, both are correct. I believe omitting the "the" and just saying "Topsfield Fair" is very slightly preferable because it is a name; "Fair" is capitalized. This distances it from the connotation of it being a fair of Topsfield.

Let's see how it's actually used. If the word "the" was omitted exactly as often as it was included, we would see "Topsfield Fair" used exactly twice as much, since "the Topsfield Fair" contains the words "Topsfields Fair." The graph shows us that "Topsfield Fair" is used a bit more than double "the Topsfield Fair," indicating that while both are commonly used, omitting the "the" is slightly more common.

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