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16 December 2012

Writing: Earth with a big “E” or small “e”

Which is correct, [a] the earth, [b] earth, [c] the Earth or [d] Earth?


RULE ONE
If you are talking about EARTH as a proper noun [name of a planet] and in relation to other celestial bodies, you should capitalize the letter “e” and do not put the article “the.”
Examples:
[1] “How far is Earth from the Sun?
[2] “Earth is the third planet in the Solar System.”
[3] “Earth is bigger than Mars.”


RULE TWO
If you are talking about EARTH as the place we live on [our home planet], you may not capitalize the letter “e.” Use the article “the.” This second rule is sometimes not strictly followed. Capitalizing the letter “e” is also acceptable.

Examples:
[1] “The earth [or the Earth] is an oblate spheroid or oval.”
[2] “The earth [or the Earth] is our home. We must protect it.”

RULE THREE
If you are talking about EARTH as dirt or soil, you should not capitalize the letter “e” and do not use an article “the” or “a."

Examples:
[1] “Get some earth and bring it to the garden.”
[2] “The miners excavated so much earth.”


EXPRESSIONS 
There are some expressions in which the “e” is not capitalized and the article “the” is not used.  Examples: peace on earth, life on earth.

[1] “Everyone wants peace on earth.”

[2] “Life on earth is challenging [etc.].”

MOTHER EARTH

The first letters in the phrase “Mother Earth” or “Mother Nature” are always capitalized because she is our mother. Do we need to say more? Mom!


MY TIPThe important matter is knowledge of the rules.  If you are referring to EARTH as our planet [and not “dirt”], you may use “the earth,” “Earth,” or “the Earth.”  Just be consistent and use the same form in your entire composition. Do not mix different forms.  In addition, if someone questions you, you can always discuss the rules with the person and at least he would know that your writing style is a matter of choice than ignorance.  Capitalizing “e” or not is not very crucial. The overall content of your written work will not be affected so relax.



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