Let me warn you about a mistake I’ve often seen in homework from my students. They write sentences like these:
- I’m going to U.S.A. next year.
- We visited United States.
- My friend is from U.S.
Can you find the mistake? Scroll down for the answer.
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All three sentences are missing the word “the.”
- I’m going to the U.S.A. next year.
- We visited the United States.
- My friend is from the U.S.
In English, most country names do not use the word “the.” For example, we do NOT say “the Brazil” or “the Canada” – but there are some exceptions, and the United States is one of them. The United States and the USA.
Another exception is the United Kingdom or the UK. For the individual countries in the United Kingdom, we don’t use the. We say England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Don’t say “the England” – but you must say the UK, the United Kingdom.
Some other countries that fall into this category of exceptions are:
- the Philippines
- the Netherlands
- the United Arab Emirates
- the Dominican Republic
- the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- the Bahamas
- the Marshall Islands.
A quick note about islands:
- When we have a group of islands, we usually say “the” – the Marshall Islands, which is a country, or the Hawaiian islands within the U.S.
- For a single island, we don’t use “the” if the word “island” is last: Long Island, Easter Island, Prince Edward Island. We do use “the” if the word “island” or “isle” is first: the island of Maui, the Isle of Skye.
Before most country names, don’t use “the” – but always use “the” for the United States or the U.S.
I’ve got an entire course to help you identify and avoid mistakes like these – it’s the 200 Common Errors in English Course, and it covers not only grammar mistakes, but also mistakes in spelling, vocabulary, pronunciation, and even common mistakes and problems in your English learning strategy.