Use of Capitals

Bowler1

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Ok, I have guards and soldiers and when referencing more than one I'm using lower case.

When a Guard salutes or a Soldier shoots and I'm specifically dealing with an individual I use capitals.

All well and good I hope, but as my story is military based, going from guards to Guard from one line to the next, or Soldier to soldiers had me wondering. Should I use capitals for all, all the time for consistency or keep to capitals for individuals?

All the while I'm hoping I've not gone and made a silly mistake
 

AllanR

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I don't think you should capitalize either. It is not the person's proper name or title. Just by going singular doesn't warent a capital. Would you capitalize soldier in the sentence 'He was an excellent soldier?' even though there is a particular individual referred to?
 

Bowler1

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What if the Soldier had a small speaking part?
'Time for tea,' said the Guard, as he got keys ready.
 

AllanR

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Speaking is irrelevant. Say Tom is the protagonist. Would you write Tom was a good Soldier? or Baker? or Lawyer?
 

Venusian Broon

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Pretty sure AllanR is correct, and the example sentence should be lowercase g for guard. Because it feels as if 'guard' and 'soldier' are generic terms.



However, it could be made more complex if 'Guard' or 'Soldier' is an actual proper title or rank within the army.

For example rifleman is a rank in modern armies, so you could have:
' "Time for tea," said Rifleman Thomas, as he got his keys ready. '

(Note that if you omit the proper name Thomas, say, in that sentence, you then have to use "the rifleman", all in lowercase.)

However note, that it is only capitalised, if before the proper name of the individual. So just rearranging things a bit:
'Thomas, the rifleman, got his keys ready before saying: "Time for tea." '

Is I think correct!
 

The Judge

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For "guard" and "soldier" I would use lower case except where it's used as part of the name/title as VB says or in place of that name when the people are being addressed, at least if it's one person eg if a character were to say "Stand at ease, Trooper." and I'm now mulling over if I'd have "Stand at ease, Troopers." and I think I would, because again they're being addressed.

While not exactly the same, it reminds me of the difference between saying "My mother is a good cook." where it's lower case but "Dear Mother, you are a great cook!" where addressing her takes a capital, as it does when talking of her without the "my" as it takes the place of a name "Oh, Mother was such a good cook."

However, when I was writing my SFs I did capitalise Major and Colonel on the basis there was only one each of them, and I'm pretty sure I gave the three Captains capitals, too, so I wasn't consistent, but as they were senior ranks it somehow seemed more appropriate even if not correct.
 

paranoid marvin

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For "guard" and "soldier" I would use lower case except where it's used as part of the name/title as VB says or in place of that name when the people are being addressed, at least if it's one person eg if a character were to say "Stand at ease, Trooper." and I'm now mulling over if I'd have "Stand at ease, Troopers." and I think I would, because again they're being addressed.

While not exactly the same, it reminds me of the difference between saying "My mother is a good cook." where it's lower case but "Dear Mother, you are a great cook!" where addressing her takes a capital, as it does when talking of her without the "my" as it takes the place of a name "Oh, Mother was such a good cook."

However, when I was writing my SFs I did capitalise Major and Colonel on the basis there was only one each of them, and I'm pretty sure I gave the three Captains capitals, too, so I wasn't consistent, but as they were senior ranks it somehow seemed more appropriate even if not correct.


But Generals, Majors and captains are actual titles, whereas soldier is a general term. If he was Private Sam or Corporal Sam he would be capitalised, but not Soldier Sam as far as I'm aware.

But as you say , when it comes to writing the author does have some latitude, and often what feels right or most appropriate works best, as it's a story and not an academic test.
 

Bowler1

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Excellent and thank you for the replies.

My guards are sometimes just guards, but I have gone and given myself an editing nightmare by having a Guards division, so sometimes my guards are in the Guards. So guarding Guards, all tucked away in 90k of text. I certainly know how to make life difficult for myself.

I have ranks above the minions in capitals, but these nearly always refer to a specific individual and officers with capitals, which feels right to me as well.

I'll go off and double check my soldiers being soldiers, or when it's just a Soldier, or a when a Guard is on guard, or is one of many guards or a single Guard.

AllanR I think you get a prize for a fast draw, you were back in with a reply super quick.
 

Abernovo

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Late to the convo, but just read your reply, Bowler (long time, no see!). If your character was in one of the UK Guards regiments as a private soldier, he would be referred to as a guardsman, or specifically Guardsman Thomas Atkins, etc. So, if your character's given rank is that of "Guard" then they would be Guard X, and one of the Guards, but also a guard.

In general (no pun intended), a soldier would simply be a soldier, and a guard, a guard. Just as a major would be a major until they're referred to by name (the infamous Major Major), or referred to specifically ("Of course, Major"), where the title and the person are inseparable -- it's where some other languages have kept the old form which explains it better, e.g. German, and Herr Major. So, if it was a situation where you might use a person's title (Mr, Mrs, Ms, Mx, Dr, Prof, etc.), capitalise. Otherwise, no. There are, as ever, exceptions to the rule, because it's the English language.
 

Bowler1

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Thanks Abernovo, glad to see I was missed.

Let's all head down my shooting range and shoot off some large beam weapons, it's a great way to blow off steam. I even have a Covid-19 weapon, it's really an old atom smasher and can waste half a city, but it works as long as you're on the right side of the business end when I fire.
 

Rufus Coppertop

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Excellent and thank you for the replies.

My guards are sometimes just guards, but I have gone and given myself an editing nightmare by having a Guards division, so sometimes my guards are in the Guards. So guarding Guards, all tucked away in 90k of text. I certainly know how to make life difficult for myself.

I have ranks above the minions in capitals, but these nearly always refer to a specific individual and officers with capitals, which feels right to me as well.

I'll go off and double check my soldiers being soldiers, or when it's just a Soldier, or a when a Guard is on guard, or is one of many guards or a single Guard.

AllanR I think you get a prize for a fast draw, you were back in with a reply super quick.

I can imagine a bit of text like this - Private Guardle MacGuardface, the guard on guard duty guardedly guarding the palace was a proud member of the Guards.

I can see how too much of that would be an editing nightmare.
 

Andy Hauser

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I wouldn't capitalize either.
Soldier or guard is an occupation whereas Major or General or Sergeant or Private are titles within that occupation.
Much like you can be a worker at a store, and a Store Manager.
 
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