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Here are 2 questions:

  • 1) What is the grammatical function of the words 'Catholics' and 'Protestants' in the following sentence?

  • 2) Should we put a capital letter for those two words or not?

Thank you very much for your answers, Amicie

Many people left England because they were Catholics and were persecuted by Protestants and their queen, Elizabeth the first.

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    The function of Catholics is 'subjective predictive complement' of the verb "be", and the function of Protestants is 'complement' (object) of the preposition "by". Capitalising them seems to be the norm – BillJ Aug 18 '16 at 10:12
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    Both "Catholic" and "Protestant" in this context are the names of churches (or belief systems) and so are proper nouns, and should therefore be capitalized. – Max Williams Aug 18 '16 at 14:34
  • I'd agree with that technical reason, but aren't they supposed to be capitalized nouns because they are formal, proper groups? We say Britains, not britains, Indians, not indians, as opposed to "sports fans", "addicts", or "programmers". – user191580 Aug 18 '16 at 14:38
  • Britain and India are countries, with names, and are proper nouns, and so we say Britons (not Britains btw) and Indians. "sports fans" is a description of a group of people, it's not a proper noun. If they all play for a football team called The Springfield Sports Fans then we might call them "the Sports Fans", but not when it's a general description. Similary for addicts and programmers, neither "addict" nor "programmer" is a proper noun, they're just descriptions. – Max Williams Aug 18 '16 at 15:11