Why is

fought in the second World War


fought in the Vietnam War

correct but

fought in the World War II

is not?


It is similar to the following example:

performed in the film


performed in the "Ted".

That one should not have the "the":

performed in "Ted".

"Second World War" is not it's name, it is more describing what it was - "the second war that involved the world", in the same way that "film" is not it's name, it is describing what it is. The name is "World War II" and "Ted"

The Vietnam war:

Vietnam War has a second name - Second Indochina War. Both of these use "the ". However, if it was called the "Indochina War II", it wouldn't use "the".

  • Does that work with Vietnam War or it's other name Second Indochina War? – Frank Aug 29 '14 at 9:43
  • No, both of those use the – Tim Aug 29 '14 at 9:45
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    Might be worth adding something about that, as the author did ask about the the in the Vietnam War as well. – Frank Aug 29 '14 at 9:50
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    I'm in England. I say World War II, although have no objections to second world war. – Tim Aug 29 '14 at 12:57
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    Second World War is just as much a name as World War II is. The only difference is that articles are not allowed before noun phrases that have (number) [X] in them (where [X] is any number). Similarly, the phrase is “What's behind door number three?”, not “What's behind the door number three?”. This goes for names and non-names alike. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 29 '14 at 15:37

Key point here:

The second


The II

Second is an adjective; II is not!


Second Word War is the Proper way in American English to write World War II using Ordinal Numbers. Roman Numerals on the other hand do not have an ordinal equivalent. See Vaibhav Garg's answer in this question.

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