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If someone were writing a paper on a particular train station, for brevity, it is easier to refer to it as "the station." Should station in that phrase be capitalized?

It is unrelated to Capitalization: when does a phrase become a proper noun? and Definite article with proper nouns, titles followed by a common noun, but apologies if this is a duplicate.

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Let's take Penn Station as an example. Penn Station is the place's name; thus, it will be capitalized as a proper noun.

Penn Station is just one of many stations, though, and whether I refer to it as "a station in Manhattan" or "the station closest to that restaurant", station is still a common noun and would not need to be capitalized. The fact that it contextually refers to a specific station does not change that.

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Why does it not become a proper noun as combined with the article that precedes it, it now refers only to a specific entity, and no longer a general class of entities (at least while in the scope of the paper)? –  soandos Nov 30 '11 at 8:53
If I ask my friend to pass the salt, I am referring to a specific salt shaker, but that doesn't make salt a proper noun. Proper nouns aren't about being specific; they are about being actual names. Similarly, I have a crush on the girl next door refers to a specific girl ("and no longer a general class of entities"), but girl is still not a proper noun, and Amy/Sally/Jane still is. –  onomatomaniak Nov 30 '11 at 8:57
Is a good rule to follow "If an article is required, then it is a common noun?" –  soandos Nov 30 '11 at 9:02
Got it, thanks. –  soandos Nov 30 '11 at 9:12
@onomatomaniak: My answer below was to be a comment here, but grew longer than I thought. –  Kris Nov 30 '11 at 11:22
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Grammar apart, at least in one case a capitalization seems appropriate. What if your paper talks also about various other stations, so that you happen to use the word station quite a few times? Sure, you will refer to the particular station as the station, but still you may need the the in front of the other stations in some places for grammar's sake. What then? Your only way would be to capitalize every reference to the particular station.

In legalese, it is sometimes seen so: XYZ (hereinafter referred to as "the Company")... And thereafter, every occurrence of company (where it refers to XYZ) is capitalized, to differentiate it from a generic company.

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But outside of legalese, this is not used? –  soandos Nov 30 '11 at 11:24
I use it, for clarity. I haven't seen much of it in common use, though. –  Kris Nov 30 '11 at 11:30
It's used. By Harvard, in fact; on their website, they call themselves "the University". And I think this is quite common for cities, universities, and other institutions. For example, in New York City and its suburbs, "the City" has only one meaning, and my impression is that it's usually capitalized. (In London, "the City" is actually a proper name, since it doesn't mean London.) –  Peter Shor Nov 30 '11 at 13:42
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