countries, states, counties, provinces: zero article
We normally use no article when referring to these larger
and smaller areas:
South-East Asia, North America, West Africa, Central Europe
America, Great Britain, New Zealand, Japan, Russia, China
Florida, Cornwall, Brittany, Bavaria, Guangdong Province
However, when the name of a country indicates multiple areas or
when the word republic is used as part of the name, the definite
article is required:
The US (The United States), The UK (The United Kingdom)
The Philippines, The Netherlands, The Czech Republic,
The Baltic States, The West Indies, The People's Republic of China
Note that when discussing politics, we speak of the government
of the UK, but when discussing nature we are more likely
to say the fauna and flora of the British Isles.
When discussing specific areas, the definite article is normally
The South of France, the West Coast of Ireland
the Eastern Seaboard of America
- The South of France attracts many visitors each year
for both the Monaco Grand Prix and the Cannes Film Festival.
lakes: zero article; seas and rivers: the
Note also that when we are referring to seas and rivers, the definite
article is required, but when we refer to inland waters or lakes,
it is omitted:
- Lake Windermere is in the Lake District.
- Loch Lomond is in the Highlands of Scotland.
- The Danube flows into the Black Sea.
individual mountains: zero article; mountain groups: the
- Everest and K2 are the two highest mountains
in the world, both situated in the Himalayas.
- The highest mountain in Britain is Ben Nevis, which
you can find in the Grampians in the Scottish Highlands.
buildings: the or zero article
When it comes to buildings, it is more difficult to see a pattern
emerging. It is more a case of Learn It. Compare the following:
- The Eiffel Tower and the Tower of London are
two landmarks in the capital cities of France and Britain.
- If you come to London, be sure to visit Buckingham Palace,
Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.
- - Where's Charing Cross station?
- It's off Trafalgar Square, between the Post Office
and Coutts Bank in the Strand.
But note that the names of most hotels and pubs,
many theatres and cinemas and most museums
and art galleries need to be used with the definite article:
- - Shall we eat at the Goose?
- No, I'm a vegetarian. Let's eat at the Slug and Lettuce.
- The Filmworks in Greenwich is a huge cinema complex
next to the Holiday Inn on the Greenwich peninsula.
- The National Gallery is on the northern side of Trafalgar
Square, opposite Nelson's Column. It's about a fifteen-minute
walk from The British Museum.