I am reading "The Orphan Child". On the first page there is a sentence which seems fine to me. But I think I should clear the air and make sure am with the writer on the same page. My question is very simple, and I think I already know the answer as well. But before we move further I should write down the sentence so you can understand what exactly I am asking.

Still from the novel:

Patterns of ice lingered on the outside of the scullery window at Meadow Hall....

My question is in the above sentence why the writer used the letter M and H capital as meadow and hall are common nouns? And if you notice in the same sentence scullery and window both are also the common nouns but he didn't use the capital letters in this case. I gave the answer to myself and I said, "He used these nouns (Meadow, Hall) as proper nouns, and calling them by their names."

Does my answer make sense? Or am I wrong about it?


1 Answer 1


You are right: Meadow Hall is the proper name of a house or mansion described in the book, and that is why the words are capitalized.

Note also that there is no article before "Meadow Hall": we don't usually use articles with proper nouns. We do have the definite article the before "scullery window", which somewhat attests to the fact that these words are common nouns (with "scullery" used in an adjective role).

In The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo Baggins's house is called Bag End, for instance: the name is also capitalized, and again there's no article before it.

The tale is structured as a journey to the Lonely Mountain (under which is the treasure trove) and back to Bag End, with a series of adventures along the way. (from Google Books)

Per PerryW's comment - there are exceptions to this pattern of "no article before the name of a building". The definite article is normally used before the names of pubs and bars: The Royal Oak, The Dover Castle, The Woolshed, etc.

According to BBC ("The" with place names: rules and exceptions),

But note that the names of most hotels and pubs, many theatres and cinemas and most museums and art galleries need to be used with the definite article.
- "Shall we eat at the Goose?"
- "No, I'm a vegetarian. Let's eat at the Slug and Lettuce."
- The Filmworks in Greenwich is a huge cinema complex next to the Holiday Inn on the Greenwich peninsula. - The National Gallery is on the northern side of Trafalgar Square, opposite Nelson's Column. It's about a fifteen-minute walk from The British Museum.

  • @user62015 - you're welcome! Jul 17, 2015 at 10:00
  • 1
    Great answer @CopperKettle but I'll take issue with one point just for the sake of pedantry. There is one very well known case where the definite article is normally used in a building name - pubs and bars, The Royal Oak, The Dover Castle, The Woolshed etc.
    – PerryW
    Jul 17, 2015 at 10:19
  • 3
    I think using the definite article with hotels and pubs is more of a British English thing. If the restaurant were called "Slug and Lettuce," I would say, "Let's eat at Slug and Lettuce."
    – Daniel
    Jul 17, 2015 at 14:39
  • The White House: Building yes, but pub or bar?
    – TaW
    Jul 17, 2015 at 15:45

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