Why the 'the'?

chvvkumar

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2005
Messages
518
Location
Northridge, LA, CA
I have a question.

Do you put 'The" in front of evry country name or only for things such as 'in the United States' but not 'in the America', similarly 'in the UK' but not 'in the England', 'at the United Nations and not simply 'at UN'?

Is there any gramatical reason?

Thanks in advance for helping me out :D
 

smib

is a big honkin' homo
Joined
Aug 31, 2007
Messages
6,465
Location
Connecticut, USA
Car(s)
2010 Mazda3
This is because it's a matter of plurals. The United States and United Kingdom are both made up of several entities. You would, however, say the Americas if you were referring to North and South America.
 

bone

"bangle for president"
DONOR
Joined
Jan 14, 2004
Messages
16,493
Location
belgium!!
Car(s)
Volvo V40 & Yamaha Banshee
This is because it's a matter of plurals. The United States and United Kingdom are both made up of several entities. You would, however, say the Americas if you were referring to North and South America.
hmm, don't think it's that easy. don't think there's an actualy rule

for instance you say "the balcan" (albania - kroatia - servia - some more), but at the same time, they say "scandinavia" (norway - sweden - finland) without "the"
 

Z102

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2005
Messages
513
Location
Valencia, Spain
Car(s)
'07 Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sport
hmm, don't think it's that easy. don't think there's an actualy rule

for instance you say "the balcan" (albania - kroatia - servia - some more), but at the same time, they say "scandinavia" (norway - sweden - finland) without "the"
Of course there must be rules. English is a Germanic tongue :p

I seem to remember that the exceptions in country names are usually with composite names with a plural noun, like "the USA" and "the USSR". Also, countries named after some geographical unit also carry a "the" (the Philippines).

On the other hand, you do put "the" before geographical areas (the Balkans). "Scandinavia" is the generic name given to the countries in the Scandinavian Peninsula, thus it carries no article.

There are a ton more rules, but that's what I recall from my English lessons that is relevant to the subject. Native speakers (specially from Britain) will be able to shed more light on this subject ;)
 

cdbob

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2006
Messages
2,094
Location
Edmonton, Canada
Car(s)
'09 STi (soon gone),'04 TDi, '96 MX-5 M
Just a title to make it gramatically correct, like saying I'm going to The "The Land of Free", or I'm going to Guantanimo Bay.
 

toma_alimosh

Also known as "Myke Hunt"
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Messages
4,468
Location
The North American Foundry
Car(s)
2014 Volkswagen Jetta
hmm, don't think it's that easy. don't think there's an actualy rule

for instance you say "the balcan" (albania - kroatia - servia - some more), but at the same time, they say "scandinavia" (norway - sweden - finland) without "the"
You're right, it's a bit more difficult.

And it's not "the balcan" it's really "the balkans" or "the balkan states". So there is a plural somewhere.

Scandinavia is the name of a region, and a noun that is not plural, thus it strolls alone. If you were to refer to the states in Scandinavia then it would be: "the scandinavian states".

Other examples: "The Phillipines" Phillipines refers to the islands that belong to the Phillipine island chain, thus it's a plural.

Other than the plural rule, there's the case where the name implies that it belongs to someone ex: "The Republic of Ireland" or "The people's republic of China".

EDIT: There are also those with names that begin with "United" (ex: The United Kingdom).
 
Last edited:

KaJuN

Disco Inferno
Joined
Jul 31, 2006
Messages
9,745
Location
Dayton, Ohio
Car(s)
Mini Cooper S, Landy Series III, Vulcan 900 Custom
There are also different uses for "the" in different English speaking countries. A good example is how we describe roads, particularly the British motorways and the American interstates. We both abbreviate them the same way (I75, M1) yet the British say "the M1" while Americans just say "I75". It's a bit weird.
 

thedguy

rides with Rebecca Black.. in the back
Joined
Jun 18, 2004
Messages
9,006
Location
Orange California
Car(s)
(OO=[][]=OO)
There are also different uses for "the" in different English speaking countries. A good example is how we describe roads, particularly the British motorways and the American interstates. We both abbreviate them the same way (I75, M1) yet the British say "the M1" while Americans just say "I75". It's a bit weird.
Not true, California's always refer to interstates as "The 5" or "the 57" or "The 91" etc... we drop the "I" and add "the".
 

KaJuN

Disco Inferno
Joined
Jul 31, 2006
Messages
9,745
Location
Dayton, Ohio
Car(s)
Mini Cooper S, Landy Series III, Vulcan 900 Custom
Weird. But then again you people also elected an Austrian body builder-turned action movie star as your governor. :tease:

Here we drop "the" when we mention the interstates in casual conversation. So it's either "take I75 to I70" or "take 75 to 70".
 

LP

Your Brown Banana for Scale
DONOR
Joined
Apr 24, 2006
Messages
7,953
Location
East-Timor, USA
Car(s)
206 HP N/A washing machine
Unless you're putting an adjective over a singular noun, "The" is not added.

Example would be if you said "The great Houdini". Houdini is a proper noun, and there is only one Houdini, but you don't say "The Houdini". Anything thats a proper noun (names pretty much) don't have "The" at the front.

The America won't work because America is a proper noun.
The United states works because state is not a proper noun.

Thedguy is right about interstates. We often put "The" in front of interstate names. The 5, the 52, the 405 etc etc. It's just like buses. "Take the 41 to UTC mall, and then take the 30 back to La Jolla". Kajun, we also use "Take I-5 to Gilman drive, but before it comes take the 52". We speak English in California dude... it's not like it's a completely different country (though I and many other Californians feel it should be).
 

No Boss

Neener, neener, I banned your title!
Joined
Oct 8, 2005
Messages
6,889
Location
Wherever the Coast Guard sends me.
Car(s)
'07 Volvo XC70 Polestar, '01 Miata SE
The America won't work because America is a proper noun.
The United states works because state is not a proper noun.
Hmmm I dunno about that. "United States" is a proper noun because it is a shorted version of "United States of America"

Thedguy is right about interstates. We often put "The" in front of interstate names. The 5, the 52, the 405 etc etc.
And that must be a regional thing, because here we don't refer to motorways that way.
 

Shawn

Lexus? Oh shi-
Joined
May 26, 2005
Messages
13,988
Car(s)
MkVI GTI w/DSG
Why is it 'the BBC' but never 'the NBC' or 'the ABC'?
 

thedguy

rides with Rebecca Black.. in the back
Joined
Jun 18, 2004
Messages
9,006
Location
Orange California
Car(s)
(OO=[][]=OO)
"I'm driving up I-5" is what we say here rather than "the 5".
From what I can tell, it seems only the Californians do it. I've seen entire articles written by poeple bitching about how we do this. Everywhere else I've lived or been, everyone seems to use "I5" and what not.

Just goes to show, can't generalize the entire country by 1 group of people.

Why is it 'the BBC' but never 'the NBC' or 'the ABC'?
Nobody ever said the English language was consistant. Why is the plural of "ox" "oxen" but the plural of "axe" is "axes"? (actually I know the answer to that, it has to do with the shift from the germanic/norse based language twards a more latin influenced).
 

chvvkumar

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2005
Messages
518
Location
Northridge, LA, CA
Thanks for all the replies guys! Very informative posts!

@Fatmouse
The chvvkumar must really take the time to think of the most interesting the questions.
The chvvkumar must really take the time to think of the most interesting of the questions.
There, I have corrected it for you ;)
 

chaos386

.sa = bad driver!
Joined
Nov 8, 2004
Messages
7,960
Location
Back in Saudia
Car(s)
SEAT Leon FR
Not true, California's always refer to interstates as "The 5" or "the 57" or "The 91" etc... we drop the "I" and add "the".
Thedguy is right about interstates. We often put "The" in front of interstate names. The 5, the 52, the 405 etc etc. It's just like buses. "Take the 41 to UTC mall, and then take the 30 back to La Jolla". Kajun, we also use "Take I-5 to Gilman drive, but before it comes take the 52". We speak English in California dude... it's not like it's a completely different country (though I and many other Californians feel it should be).
And that must be a regional thing, because here we don't refer to motorways that way.
"I'm driving up I-5" is what we say here rather than "the 5".
From what I can tell, it seems only the Californians do it. I've seen entire articles written by poeple bitching about how we do this. Everywhere else I've lived or been, everyone seems to use "I5" and what not.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_English#Freeway_nomenclature

I'm on a regional mailing list that centers around the SF Bay Area, and this was a hotly debated discussion for a few days. It was also debated if it was a NorCal vs. SoCal thing. For what it's worth, when I lived in the East Bay, the only freeway we used "the" with was "The 5", and we referred to all other freeways as "580", "680", "Highway 24", and so on.
 
Top