Let’s learn some collocations: words that commonly go together! You can also learn more of these in my e-book 1000 Collocations in 10 Minutes a Day.
You can describe a country based on its climate/temperature:
- a tropical country (hot and humid, near the equator)
- a temperate country (mild weather and/or four seasons)
- a cold country
When talking about a person’s country, you can say:
- someone’s native/home country (where they were born and raised)
- someone’s adopted country (where they have chosen to live long-term)
The expression “a foreign country” simply means a different country from the one the speaker lives in, or the conversation is based in.
You can also talk about a neighboring country (a country that is right next to another one – ex. Canada and the U.S.) or a distant/faraway country (ex. the U.S. and Australia).
When talking about how advanced a country is, you might hear these terms:
- a developed/first-world country (stronger economically, higher quality of life)
- a developing/third-world country (weaker economically, lower quality of life)
Note: the best terms to use are developed/developing country, since the terms first-world/third-world are considered rather out of date. However, some people still use them.
Here are more collocations specifying a country’s economic or political system:
- a capitalist country
- a socialist country
- a communist country
- a democratic country (leaders are elected by the people)
If a country is ruled by a king/queen or a royal family, it is a monarchy. If a country is ruled by a dictator (a single person with absolute power), it is a dictatorship. Both these words are nouns used alone – we don’t include the word “country” after them.
You can also describe the official or main religion of a country:
- a Catholic country
- a Muslim country
- a Buddhist country
An occupied country is one in which another country’s military forces are controlling the area, in contrast to an independent country, which controls itself.
The leaders of the country govern / rule / run the country – the word “run” is the most informal.
To serve one’s country means to be in the military or work in a government job; these are considered to be doing good things for your country.
Finally, you can love your country if you feel good about it!
Country vs. countryside
There can be some confusion between the words country and countryside.
The word country has multiple meanings:
- A nation, such as Japan, France, Ecuador
- An area/region defined by a characteristic
Ex) This is hunting country. = an area where people hunt
My relatives live in Bible country. = an area where people are Christians / believe strongly in the Bible
- A rural area
Ex) We own a house out in the country.
The word countryside refers only to the third definition – a rural area. So you could also say “We own a house out in the countryside” – it is also correct.