Dick King-Smith served in the Grenadier Guards during the Second World War.

I saw the above in my son's reading book "The HODGEHEG".

I know that the basics about the definite articles but unable to understand their use before "Grenadier Guards" and "Second World War".

Why do we treat both these nouns as proper nouns?

JigneshbharatiWhy do we treat both these nouns as proper nouns?

Because they are official names given to 1) a military unit and 2) a war.


Sometimes wars are given different names because of the political position of the people who are naming them.

The American Civil War (1860-1865) has been known by different names.


Significant historical events are also given proper names. e.g. the Armenian Genocide, Battle of Waterloo, the Battle of the Bulge, and the French Revolution.

JigneshbharatiWhy do we treat both these nouns as proper nouns?

I think that what you're noticing is that in fact we do not treat them as proper nouns. Proper nouns don't take "the". If we were treating these nouns as proper nouns, we would not put "the" in front of them.

Some writers say that these constructions, where a capitalized word or group of words is accompanied by 'the', should be called "weak proper names", but regardless of the terminology, here is what one website says about them.

We use the definite article with certain kinds of proper nouns:

Geographical places: the Sea of Japan, the West, the Rockies, the Sahara
Pluralized names (geographic, family, teams): the Netherlands, the Bahamas, the Johnsons, the Winnipeg Jets
Public institutions/facilities/groups: the Supreme Court, the Sheraton, the Presbyterian Church
Newspapers: the Ottawa Citizen, the Times


"the Grenadier Guards" fits into the category of public institutions, but we have to add another category for "the Second World War". Shall we say 'famous historical events'?