Why the word-The- is prefixed with some countries name and not others. Lets know all about it.

  • As we know all the names of countries which are prefixed with the word 'the' is due to some reason. Today we will discuss those reason in brief and try to explain the concept of adding prefix 'the' in the countries name. Lets Know all about it and start.

Why the word"The" is prefixed with some countries name, lets know about countries name,

To get answer about this we have to understand each one in briefly and then only we can know about it.

When we say any country name we always says
The USA 
The UK 
The Czech Republic 
The West Indies 
The Philippines 
The Netherlands 
but we don’t use 
The India
The Pakistan
The China
The South Korea
The Japan
The Taiwan
The Indonesia etc. 

The reason for that is described below:

  • Many English scholars say that the countries which consist the words ‘states’, ‘republic’, ‘kingdom’, ‘federation’ with their names, article ‘the’ is used. 
Like The United States, The United Kingdom, The Czech Republic, The Russian Federation etc.
  • The word ‘The’ is also used with the countries consisting many Islands. 
        For example:- The Bahamas, The Philippines, The Maldives,            The West Indies etc.
  • Some explains that countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom also carry the definite article because they are compound nouns with adjectives.

In the case of the Netherlands and the Maldives, it's because the name is plural, this is common when referring to groups of islands, compare the West Indies, the Seychelles, the Isles of Scilly... and the Netherlands means "the low lands".

In the case of "The Ukraine", it's because the name refers to the type of political entity it was - "u+krajina" means "border region" etymologically. So the article was used for the same reason we say "The Upper Palatinate" to refer to the area of Germany, and "The ... Republic", "The United States" etc. 

However the Ukrainian government have advised English speakers to drop the definite article since they gained independence and this seems to be catching on.


(The) United States of America

(The) Philippines

(The) Netherlands

(The) United Arab Emirates

(The) Honduras

(The) Comoros

(The) Solomon Islands

The Bahamas

(The) Maldives

(The) Barbados

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

(The) Federated States of Micronesia

(The) Seychelles

(The) Marshall Islands

Use of a term such as Kingdom, Republic etc. (cf. e.g. The French Republic vs France)
(The) United Kingdom

(The) Czech Republic

(The) Dominican Republic

(The) Central African Republic

(The) Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Use of a geographical term (river, coast, etc.)

(The) Democratic Republic of the Congo (River)

(The) Sudan (Desert)

(The) Ivory Coast

(The) South Sudan (Desert)

(The) (Mount) Lebanon

(The) Republic of the Congo (River)

The Gambia (River)

The Vatican (Hill and/or City)

Former non-state region

(The) Ukraine (i.e. borderland) Region

The Bahamas (the Commonwealth of the Bahamas): The Bahamas
The Comoros (the Union of the Comoros): Comoros
The Gambia (the Republic of the Gambia): The Gambia
The Marshall Islands (the Republic of the Marshall Islands): Marshall Islands
The Netherlands (Kingdom of the Netherlands): Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Philippines (the Republic of the Philippines): Philippines
The Sudan (the Republic of the Sudan): Sudan
The United Arab Emirates (The United Arab Emirates): United Arab Emirates
The United Kingdom / UK (The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland): United Kingdom

The United States / USA (The United States of America): United States.

Hope you understand the concept behind this. The reason and explanation given above are compiled from various sources and this does not means that the above explanations are 100 percent correct. If you have any suggestions regarding these concepts or any corrections then please comment on this article to correct it.

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