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Rephrasing the entire question:

Do we use the article "the" when we use an adjective with a proper noun? Which of these is correct, and why?

The terrible Mr. Brown set my boat on fire.

Terrible Mr. Brown set my boat on fire.

The US-based Galacto, Inc., takes care of its customers.

US-based Galacto, Inc., takes care of its customers.

Do we use the article "the" when we use an adjective with a proper noun? Which of these is correct?

The Switzerland-based ABC Fund operates in most countries of the EU.

Switzerland-based ABC Fund operates in most countries of the EU.

I have a feeling the first sentence is correct but that it sounds a little old-fashioned. What about phrases like, "The terrible Mr Brown"? You could argue that we're actually saying, "The terrible man Mr Brown". Said like that it sounds like an appositive, but is there something else going on here? Is there a term for this kind of phrase?

EDIT: By using the noun fund in my example, I have not made it clear what the question is. How would "the" work in "The US-based XYZ, Inc."?

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possible duplicate of Definite article before schools, colleges and universities –  Robusto Jun 10 '11 at 11:29
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@Robusto: I don't think it is a duplicate of that question. Saying "the University of X" is different from "the terrible Mr. Brown", don't you think? In the first, the word university is a common noun, though part of a proper noun. In the second, there is no common noun, only a proper noun. –  Tragicomic Jun 10 '11 at 11:32
    
I guess that the reason why Robusto thought it wass a duplicate is that they both treat about "the + proper nouns". It doesn't matter whether it's a school/college/university name or an organisation, they are both proper nouns. –  Alenanno Jun 10 '11 at 12:11
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It's not a duplicate. To my ear, both of these sentences are correct, but they convey slightly different shades of meaning, and I'm not certain how to put this difference into words. –  Peter Shor Jun 10 '11 at 12:43
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I believe both of these sentences are correct, but that they convey slightly different shades of meaning.

Terrible Mr. Brown set my boat on fire.

Mr. Brown set my boat on fire; I think he's terrible.

The terrible Mr. Brown set my boat on fire.

Mr. Brown, who is infamous in these parts for being terrible, set my boat on fire.

When the adjective is "US-based" rather than "terrible", there is really very little difference in meaning between the two sentences. Putting "the" in might make the company sound a little more well-known.

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+1 Thank you. This makes sense. I had an inkling that it was something like this, but couldn't find the words. –  Tragicomic Jun 10 '11 at 12:55
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There's another possibility, which clearly isn't the case for either of your examples. If there were two Mr. Browns, you could distinguish between them by calling one of them "the nice Mr. Brown" and the other "the terrible Mr. Brown." –  Peter Shor Jun 10 '11 at 13:10
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You can use the with any attributively-modified proper noun, but sometimes it sounds fine and sometimes it sounds a bit weird.

  • Proper nouns that ordinarily take the even when they’re not modified – The word the is retained (the venerable New York Times).

  • Old, good old, etc. — These modifiers and a few others often appear without the (good old Mr. Wilson).

  • Names of people – Adding the is normal and, in ordinary prose, just about required (the great Connie Willis is much better than great Connie Willis). But in poetry, headlines, titles, and so forth you’ll see it both ways (Fantastic Mr. Fox). Sometimes the modifier becomes part of the name, and then the is often dropped (Shoeless Joe Jackson).

  • Other proper nouns – These are not attributively modified as often. Innovative North Carolina is a great place to work sounds really weird with or without the.

Stylistically, attributively modifying a proper noun isn’t something people do in normal conversation. It strikes me as newspaper-ese.

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+1 Thank you. I especially like the examples. –  Tragicomic Jun 10 '11 at 14:07
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On that note, it also works with indefinites, e.g., A visibly-shaken Obama scolds Texas newspaper reporter after interview (obviously a newspaper headline). Also, I think a large part of what determines whether an adjective plus proper name is even acceptable at all depends upon the meaning of the adjective. If the adjective has to do with intrinsic properties, the result is kind of odd, e.g. the male Obama, whereas the result is fine if the adjective denotes some temporary or attributed characteristic, e.g., the now-popular Obama. –  jyc23 Jun 10 '11 at 19:07
    
@jyc23: Interesting examples. –  Tragicomic Jun 12 '11 at 14:21
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"The" should be used in your first example, because "the" is a determiner modifying "Fund", which is an object.

The...Fund

The adjectives in between "the" and "Fund" help specify further, which Fund is being mentioned.

"the" can be used in the phrase "The terrible Mr. Brown", because it specifically determines to the audience, which Mr. Brown is being referred to. "The" in this case has the effect of "That particular Mr. Brown,".

In your third example, there is still a noun, like as in your first example. XYZ is a placeholder for a proper noun. "The" in this case would be modifying that placeholder, so "the" would still be needed.

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Thank you for your answer. However, I don't think it was very clear what I was asking earlier in my question. I have edited it. Please read the edit and see if you'd like to modify your answer. –  Tragicomic Jun 10 '11 at 11:39
    
Aargh at myself! I have edited it again. I did not mean for "ABC" to stand for anything. Just think of it as a placeholder for a proper noun:-) –  Tragicomic Jun 10 '11 at 11:46
    
If it is a placeholder for a proper noun, then "the" would be modifying the placeholder for the proper noun. :) –  Thursagen Jun 10 '11 at 11:48
    
@Jasper Loy, I think its because he said it could be argued that "the" was referring to "the terrible man, Mr. Brown" –  Thursagen Jun 10 '11 at 11:50
    
@Jasper Loy: Because it wasn't "The terrible Mr Brown" that confused me but "The US-based XYZ, Inc." The terrible Mr Brown sounds quite right (though I'm not sure why) but both "US-based XYZ, Inc." and "The US-based XYZ Inc." sound fine to me:-( –  Tragicomic Jun 10 '11 at 11:55
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