The article 'the' is used when talking about monuments, the White House, the Houses of Parliament, so why is it not used when speaking about Big Ben in London?


1 Answer 1


The difference is in anthropomorphization. Big Ben used to be the name of the huge bell atop St. Stephen's tower, but eventually became the proper name of the whole structure. We only rarely talk about 'the Ted' or 'the Marsha'. Instead, we use the definite article 'the' to convey 'properness' to something that might be otherwise be difficult to distinguish. See: 'the White House' vs. 'a White House'. Big Ben doesn't need that treatment to distinguish itself.

  • 1
    Big Ben has never been the official name of the tower, just the most commonly used one. It used to be called The Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament until 2012 until it was renamed The Elizabeth Tower in honour of Queen Elizabeth the second. Apparently Victorian journalists called it St Stephen's Tower but this was never official either. Follow this link and scroll down to Is it called St Stephen's Tower, the Clock Tower or the Elizabeth Tower?. This site is as official as it gets!
    – BoldBen
    Oct 9, 2018 at 4:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.