Grammar Chaos: In Titled and Entitled, We Trust

Posted on Nov 15, 2017

How do you know when to use titled or entitled in a sentence? Read our quick guide below, and it will soon make perfect sense!

Your title here

When it comes to giving titles to things and even people, the possibilities are endless. While authors title their books however they wish, professionals are titled according to their areas of expertise, such as “doctor” in the medical field, “officer” in the army, and “engineer” in . . . well, engineering. On that note, we would assume that the word entitle means exactly the same thing. But why is it right to say a novel by Mark Twain is entitled Huckleberry Finn but awkward to say that Twain entitled that novel as such?

For starters, it is correct to say that Twain titled his novel Huckleberry Finn. This is because the verb title can be used both actively and passively to “provide a title” for something or someone. It can also be used as a past-participle adjective to describe an object or a person.

Some examples of sentences with the word titled include the following:

  1. The historian titled his biography after a famous war hero in World War II.

  2. She was officially titled a doctor of social science by her dissertation adviser.

  3. The poem titled “Annabel Lee” is one of my favorites.

The word entitled, however, is a whole different story. Don’t let the mere addition of the prefix en fool you. As a verb, entitle has two meanings: (1) to “furnish with proper grounds for seeking or claiming something” and, like title, (2) to “give a title” to something or someone, except in the case of the latter, the more common and acceptable form is the passive form, namely, entitled.

Below are a few examples of sentences using the word entitled:

  1. He will write about the book entitled Peter Rabbit for his report.

  2. You are entitled to a Christmas bonus before the end of the year.

  3. As a citizen without a criminal record, she was entitled to free education and health insurance.

Nowadays, entitled is also often used negatively to describe a person who is spoiled or thinks they are deserving of more than what they have. Regardless of that connotation, entitled retains its two-pronged definition with or without the politics. But as they all say, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion!

As a learning writer, are you interested in more grammar tips from our Grammar Chaos series? We provide those and so much more at our 1-Hour Proofreading blog, so check that out!


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