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QUESTION

When referring to an entity like a government body, should it be capitalized if referring to is by classification(?).

E.g., if I write:

The City of New York requires us to get a building permit.

Certainly "city" should be capitalized.

However, if I'm communicating in a context where everyone should know what city I'm referring to (the one we are in), when I write:

The city requires us to get a building permit.

Should "city" still be capitalized?

{ asked by CodeSlave }

ANSWER

In your second example, "city" should not be capitalized. Words for governmental or administrative units are only capitalized when they are used as part of a proper noun, such as the formal name of a city.

Your first example is correct so long as you're referring to the City of New York, as the formal name for New York. However, if I were simply using the word "city" to disambiguate and not as part of a formal name, I wouldn't capitalize it:

We're only going to the city of New York, not the rest of the state.

{ answered by JSBangs }
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