I believe I am stuck with only these two options, but would appreciate an alternative usage. I am somewhat limited on sentence structure as this application is part of a mail merge document.

The purpose of the business is to own and operate The Tutoring Center franchise location.


The purpose of the business is to own and operate a The Tutoring Center franchise location.

Since the business will be a franchise (one of many), I feel the article "a" is necessary. Help is much appreciated!

2 Answers 2


It's a rare instance in which English applies an article to a proper name to identify an individual. But English requires the article to precede an adjective with a possessive sense, which is what has happened with "The Tutoring Center," which is a type of location or franchise, making an uncomfortable juxtaposition of "a" and "The." Rephrase to attach your article properly:

"The purpose of the business is to own and operate a franchise of The Tutoring Center."

  • 3
    It's perfectly commonplace in general to apply an article to a proper name. It is very normal and natural to say that there's a McDonald’s in town, for instance. When the proper noun starts with an article, that article is usually just stripped out, so you could say that the purpose is to own a Tutoring Center franchise location. That said, in this particular instance, your rephrasing does flow better. Jul 1, 2015 at 20:29
  • I stand corrected. This happens when the name is an institution of multiple locations. I doubt anyone would use it often names like Bill's Cleaners, any name that began with an article, or names referring to individuals.
    – deadrat
    Jul 1, 2015 at 20:44
  • @deadrat Certainly not for individuals or Bill’s Cleaners, except in cases where they are thought of as one out of multiple items with the same name (“Oh, you’ve got a Bill’s Cleaners here, too? There’s one where I live as well!” or “Yeah, I knew a Jonah when I was a kid, but he moved away”); but that’s because you would never use those names in a context where an article would be expected in the first place. Whether names begin with an article or not is not really relevant; they all follow this basic principle. Jul 1, 2015 at 22:02

From the point of view of the owner of The Tutoring Center, who is looking for potential franchisees, it's important to use the full name of the company (including the opening The) at every opportunity, as a matter of branding. So, to the extent that you are representing this owner, you are well advised to follow the recommendation of deadrat and restructure any sentences that would otherwise leave you with a double-article ("a The") juxtaposition.

Other people facing similar juxtapositions, however, do not have to bend over backward to retain the company's favored wording. For them, the simple solution is to drop the word The from the company name. Here is an example from a description of a geocaching challenge called "That ALGEBRA Cache":

The puzzle-phobic Duck phones several friends, purchases a Learning Company course called "Mathematics Made Simple (but not THAT Simple!)," and slips the CO a bribe. He completes his solution after 8 hrs and 6 bottles of Tylenol. Fortunately, the cache is only 22-1/2 miles away from his pond, "as the duck flies"--and a duck who's out to be First To Find can fly mighty fast!

The company's official name is, as you probably know, The Learning Company; but the author of this description is perfectly within his rights to use the wording "a Learning Company course called" instead of "a course from The Learning Company called..." Indeed, the Chicago Manual of Style, fifteenth edition (2003), goes a step further and recommends lowercasing the even in situations where it could be capitalized without resulting awkwardness:


8.73 When to capitalize. The full names of institutions and companies and of their departments, and sometimes their short forms, are capitalized. A the preceding a name, even when part of the official title, is lowercased in running text. ...

[Relevant Example:] the Hudson's Bay Company

This arrangement, of course, frees writers to drop the in favor of a whenever a sentence calls for it:

Pierre reached a Hudson's Bay Company outpost just as the snow began to fall heavily.

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