Grammar 101 with Michael Kwan

Some rules in the English language are easy enough to understand. You should be able to discern the difference between “two” and “too” quite easily, but there are other scenarios that aren’t so clear-cut. One such scenario is choosing between “titled” and “entitled” when referring to the title of a work.

I’ve heard both variations being used and, to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure which was correct when I first set out to write this blog post. As such, I did some research online to see what other grammar “enthusiasts” had to say on the matter.

Consider the following sentence:

John and Michael’s book entitled/titled Make Money Online was published in 2010.

What word would you use in that instance? Titled or entitled? Some people will tell you that only titled would be correct in this situation, because entitled refers to having the rights to something. You are entitled to your own opinion, but a book is titled something.

However, upon further research, it seems there exists a difference between British English and American English. With British English (and, by extension, Canadian English), “entitled” would be acceptable, because it refers to “giving a title to something.” In this way, both “John entitled his book…” and “The book entitled…” would be acceptable. In American English, titled is preferred.

It’s possible that using entitled instead of titled could come off sounding pretentious or, in the eyes of some writers, it could come off as simply incorrect. It comes down to your personal writing style but one way you could avoid this issue altogether is to use an alternative term. Perhaps you could say the book is “called” something instead.

The English language is inherently dynamic and ever-changing. What may be acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to another. That’s why, if you can, it may be best to avoid some of these grammar problems altogether and choose a structure that is more universally accepted by all.