Do you feel the earth move under your feet? How about the sky tumbling down, tumbling down?
Are you singing along in your head, or are you really just nervous about your grammar? Do you know when to capitalize the “e” in “Earth” or when to leave it in lowercase?
We all know the name of the third planet from the sun, but the proper noun vs. common noun confusion is an understandable one. Sometimes, we see it written as “Earth,” and sometimes, it’s just plain “earth.”
Here’s the quick “earth” capitalization breakdown:
- When referring to the ground under your feet, “earth” is perfect.
- When referring to someone being “salt of the earth,” “down-to-earth” “the scum of the earth,” “like nothing on earth,” “hell on earth,” or needing to “come back down to earth,” the lower case usage is preferred. (What on earth? So many “earth” idioms!)
- When naming the planets in our solar system or when writing a sci-fi novel about intergalactic travel, use “Earth.”
- When in NASA’s mission control and stating, “Earth to space station. Come in space station,” write “Earth.”
In short, if you’re referring to the planet as a whole, that’s the only time that you need to debate your capitalization of “earth” vs. “Earth,” and some argue, there’s some wiggle room even there.
If you’re still baffled about when to capitalize “earth,” remember that proper nouns usually don’t have articles like “the” in front of them. Following that logic, if you ever refer to “the earth,” it should be lower-cased.
Hopefully, the earth isn’t moving more than its usual speed under your feet, and you’re just singing along with me now. Capitalization shouldn’t make you lose control, down to your very soul…
Happy writing, everyone!
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