Extending Using the definite article before a country/state name , why is the definite article placed in front of rivers but not lakes?

  • Good question. It does seem to be a pretty consistently observed convention. Maybe something to do with the fact that being "all in one place", so to speak, most lakes are fully and unquestionably known to the locals, so they'll probably always have had a single unambiguous name. Rivers can be very long, so people living many miles up- or downriver might more often have had different names for the same waterway. Sooner or later they'd have to reach a consensus and agree on the name. Mar 7 '14 at 12:23
  • Yes very odd. Indeed the same body of water can be both 'The Sea of Galilee' and 'Lake Genessaret', one with an article, the other without.
    – WS2
    Mar 7 '14 at 12:46
  • @WS2 That's a great example!
    – graffe
    Mar 7 '14 at 12:48

You can already see it when you look on your question. You say "The Thames" but complete you mean "The 'River' Thames". So the article replaces the noun.

"The" usage duplicate

  • But it's not "The 'Lake' Erie".
    – graffe
    Mar 7 '14 at 12:18
  • 1
    But saying "the river Thames" is normal, too. Saying "the lake Erie" or "the loch Lomond" is kinda wrong. Mar 7 '14 at 12:18
  • Thank you. The linked answer is very short on "why" answers though. Only the last one with 1 solitary upvote by David Grout suggests any reason.
    – graffe
    Mar 7 '14 at 12:37
  • @felix There probably isn't a why beyond "that's just what people say". Mar 7 '14 at 12:42
  • @MattЭллен OK but there may be a history and it may be helpful to see what influences there have been from other languages etc.
    – graffe
    Mar 7 '14 at 12:48

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