In my case, I want to know whether both words or either word of "The Badlands" should be capitalized. "The Badlands" is specifically what people use now instead of the real name for a place.

-We live in Africa, but everyone calls it The Badlands now.
-I wouldn't know what happens in other places, I'm from The Badlands.
-We roam The Badlands day and night.
-We are the people of The Badlands.
-One day, I want to leave The Badlands.

Lastly, let us say I have always been using "the" before "badlands" but in a few sentences I switch to
-These badlands have always been my home.
-We will continue to roam these badlands.

To me, only the last two sentences don't need the capitalization but the rest do. Possibly not "the" but "Badlands" yes. Is this so?

Thanks in advance for the help.


1 Answer 1


It depends on whether you consider the word badlands to be a name (proper noun) or a simple noun (i.e. bad lands).

The word badlands can be found in English dictionaries, for example:

Badlands plural noun 1 Extensive tracts of heavily eroded, uncultivable land with little vegetation. - ODO

However, that definition may not carry the meaning you intend for the word.

If you take the position that badlands in the sense you intend isn't an English word, then you default to calling it a name.

If you consider it to be a name, then every word that is considered part of the name (including the word The, if applicable) should be capitalised.

From Grammar Bytes:

A proper noun has two distinctive features: 1) it will name a specific [usually a one-of-a-kind] item, and 2) it will begin with a capital letter no matter where it occurs in a sentence. - Robin L. Simmons

From your description, it appears that the residents of the place have adopted The Badlands as its name. In your first block of examples, then, you should capitalise both words.

In your examples using "these badlands", you seem to be using the word badlands as a simple noun, just as you would these deserts or these cities if those had been more appropriate. In that case, you would use lower case for both words: these badlands.

  • In the way the OP is using it, I believe it calls for a capital B.
    – WS2
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 8:51
  • @WS2 I agree. I'll edit it in.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 10:23

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