While talking about a city or a country, in some cases I have seen the article , but in most other cases, it is absent. For example, I have seen


The US

The UK

but never

The London or The France

What's the rule here? From the usage, I guess while talking about a very prominent or famous place (which everyone is aware of), I should use the. But is not it too subjective?

  • Barman, there is The City of London en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_London but, not "The London". If you refer to London in general, just use the name London.
    – Tristan r
    Apr 12, 2014 at 12:44
  • 1
    "The NYC" is one hundred percent incorrect, though as with London, "The City of New York" is sometimes used, generally for formal and legal purposes. Apr 13, 2014 at 3:10

3 Answers 3


The is fine in front of a collection:

  • The United States
  • The United Kingdom
  • The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

We use the definite article when referring to countries/places that indicate multiple areas.

France, Germany, Belgium, England...

The United Kingdom, The United States, The Netherlands, The West Indies...

We also use the definite article when discussing a specific area.

The North of England, The South of France...

As for why it is often writted "the NYC", I believe that's a stylised thing. You would say "the UK" and "the United Kingdom". But you wouldn't say "the New York City". So NYC without the definite article will be correct.

  • There are various ways you can use "the" before a proper noun. One is to emphasise you're talking about the well-known example when there is more than one with the same name. This is more common with people: you might call the famous Justin Bieber "the Justin Bieber" in opposition to your friend who happens to be called Justin Bieber and is just "a Justin Bieber". I can imagine "I'm on holiday to Paris." "What, Paris, Texas?" "No, the Paris, in France." There's also The City, referring to the City of London, and The Hague.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 29, 2022 at 16:04

The is the definite article here. We use it because these aren't just states, they are The United States, not just lands but The Netherlands. If you like think of it like so.

If I said Lands or States, it's not definite which ones I mean. If I use United States or Netherlands, it is definite...so use the definite article.

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