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" Toronto is in the US." Why should I put "the" before countries?
Aug 26, 2018 4:19 PM
Answers · 14
The answer is simpler than you'd think. There are just two categories of countries which take the definite article: 1. Names which are plural nouns : the Netherlands, the Philippines 2. Names which are common nouns ( like 'state') preceded by an adjective : the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, the Russian Federation and (obviously) names which fall in to both of the above categories: the United Arab Emirates, the United States This is a simple grammatical rule - nothing to do with abbreviations. If you put 'the' before a place name, this suggests it is a region, for example, 'the Yukon' or 'the Camargue' . As Nicholas has pointed out, it is offensive ( and inaccurate) to refer to Ukraine as 'the Ukraine', suggesting that it is not a sovereign state. If you refer to the location of Kiev as being in Ukraine - not 'the Ukraine' -you are being both grammatically and politically correct. The only country which doesn't fit this is the Gambia, a little country of only 2m inhabitants in W.Africa. I don't know why the Gambia is the Gambia - perhaps because it's also the name of the river. Unless you have occasion to go to or talk about this one country ( I know that I never have), I wouldn't worry too much about this one exception to the rule. And yes... if you're talking about the major city called Toronto, it's in Canada - a great big country in North America which is NOT the United States. There are a handful of tiny little places in the US which also happen to to be called Toronto, but I doubt if you'd have heard of any of them. Most people haven't.
August 26, 2018
Some countries just take a definite article. By the way, most Ukrainians I've met find "the Ukraine" offensive because it implies that it's just a region instead of a sovereign nation in its own right. Given their history, it's probably better to go with "Ukraine" (this is also the official name of the country, but the Ukrainian / Russian languages don't have articles... so this could also be a reason). I used to also hear "the Lebanon" a lot but now everyone just says "Lebanon". I think it's this way because the countries are named after geographical regions or features (e.g. mountain ranges). Other countries which take the definite article: the Netherlands, the Philippines, the Gambia, the United Kingdom etc.
August 26, 2018
Joseph's answer is near perfect, but there are some irregulars like "Kiev is in the Ukraine". Sorry I'm wrong here. Sorry Danyel, abbreviations is not the core issue. Well use the idea of is it a name of a country like "Mexico" or a group of states like "the United States". "The United Kingdom" etc
August 26, 2018
it isn't all countries. You wouldn't say "the Mexico." or "the England." "the" is used for abbreviated things. U.S. is an abbreviation for America so you say "the US." but you wouldn't say "the America".
August 26, 2018
I don't think it has anything to do with abreviations, because you would still say ''I live in the United States''.

Some countries (or regions) just have an article, you have to learn which ones. A tip: most of them have ''nouns'' in their names, such as ''state'', ''kingdom'', ''republic'', ''union'', ''island'', etc.

The United Kingdom

The United States of America

The Czech Republic

The Falkland Islands (or the Falklands)

The European Union



England, Scotland, America, Europe, etc.

August 26, 2018
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