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    #1

    "the" with geographical names

    The more you browse the Internet, the more confused you become about the usage of the definite article with geographical names. Wikipedia uses no definite article before "Hoover Dam", but when we look it up on Britannica or the BBC we find the article there. Next to Wikipedia, there are a host of websites that use the "articled" variety. With regard to" Niagara Falls" and"Victoria Falls", Wikipedia seems to be divided:both varieties can be seen in the articles. The matter is complicated by the fact that the opening sentence of the article on "Angel Falls" does not use the definite article before the name of the waterfall.Who can demystify that?" Potala Palace" is always used with the definite article;"Topkapi Palace" is sometimes used with the definite article;"Buckingham Palace" never. On the one hand we have" Wood Buffalo national park" and on the other," the Serengeti National Park".The crater in Tanzania is called "the Ngorongoro Crater" but its counterpart in Arizona is simply "Meteor Crater". A host of other examples can be found by surfing sites on palaces, dams, craters,falls and suchlike things. Mastering the complicated and irrational hodge-podge of English grammar is a gargantuan problem for a foreign learner depending entirely upon dictionaries and encyclopedias. It is high time we did away with some of the ridiculous rules and regulations deeply entrenched in the grammatical edifice of the English language and brought some simplicity and clarity to it. Native speakers may not find it difficult to negotiate English grammar but one cannot underestimate the fact that there are more second and third language speakers of English than native speakers in the world. People who used to dub English as a colonial tool and deem it unworthy to learn it are becoming increasingly aware of the role it has been playing in the ongoing process of globalization and showing more interest in mastering it. Under the circumstances what I would suggest is that since there are a lot of prospective learners in every part of the world English speaking countries should do something to make things easier for them. I look forward to valuable comments and suggestions from native speakers and prospective learners.


    PS: By English speaking countries I mean the United Kingdom, the US, Australia, and so on. Here most of us think in our mother tongue and then translate into English.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "the" with geographical names

    Do you have a question?

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    #3

    Re: "the" with geographical names

    The question is so simple.
    How do we use the definite article with geographical names?

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: "the" with geographical names

    Quote Originally Posted by balakrishnanijk View Post
    The question is so simple.
    How do we use the definite article with geographical names?
    It's one of those cases where you just have to learn which ones take an article and which don't.

    France
    Germany
    The Netherlands
    Senegal
    The Gambia
    The United Kingdom
    Australia
    The Democratic Republic of Congo
    Kenya

    I could go on. I won't.

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: "the" with geographical names

    The is used:
    Usually NOT with lakes, but there are exceptions.
    Usually with the major oceans and seas.
    Usually with rivers.
    Usually NOT with waterfalls.
    Usually with monuments

    All of these are "usually." I'm afraid you will have to learn the exceptions.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #6

    Re: "the" with geographical names

    It is easy to learn exceptions but it is not easy to see through the intention of the writer who writes the same name with and without the definite article.
    Look at the following:
    1.Niagara Falls, located on the Niagara River draining Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, is the collective name for the Horseshoe Falls and the adjacent American Falls along with the comparatively small Bridal Veil Falls, which combined form the highest flow rate of any waterfalls in the world and has a vertical drop of more than 50 meters.
    2.Niagara Falls are composed of two major sections, separated by Goat Island: the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side and the American Falls on the American side.
    3.The Niagara Falls are renowned both for their beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power.
    4.About 10,900 years ago, the Niagara Falls was located between present-day Queenston, Ontario, and Lewiston, New York, but erosion of their crest has caused the waterfalls to retreat approximately 6.8 miles (10.9 km) southward.
    5.A number of figures have been suggested as first circulating an eyewitness description of Niagara Falls.
    You will have noticed that the same writer sometimes uses the definite article before NIAGARA FALLS,but there are cases in the same article where it is left out.
    What is the rule governing it or is it a new rule?


    Now look at the following sentences culled from different sites on the Internet:

    1.Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, and the magnificent centerpiece of Downtown Dubai, a new, world-class destination.
    2.The Burj Khalifa's water system supplies an average of 946,000 l (250,000 USgal) of water per day through 100 km (62 mi) of pipes.
    3.The opening of Burj Khalifa was held on 4 January 2010.
    4.German architects have criticised the world's tallest building in Dubai, saying the Burj Khalifa has set a bad example for building design.
    5.The Burj Khalifa was revealed to be 828m (2,716ft) high, far taller than the previous record holder, Taipei 101.
    6.The world's tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa (popularly called the Burj Dubai), was lit by laser lights during its opening ceremony in Dubai Jan. 4.
    7.The Burj Khalifa, in Dubai—the new holder of the title of World's Tallest Building—is no less extravagant a media gesture.
    8.Burj Khalifa has been designed to be the centrepiece of a large-scale, mixed-use development that would include 30,000 homes, nine hotels such as The Address Downtown Dubai, 3 hectares (7.4 acres) of parkland, at least 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 12-hectare (30-acre) man-made Burj Khalifa Lake.

    Now the $64000 question is whether to use the definite article with "Burj Khalifa"

    Suffice it to say that if you comb through the Internet, you will be lucky to come across a vast number of such sentences. And the careful learner is left wondering whether there are "two ways about it".

    Please comment.

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: "the" with geographical names

    Perhaps the conclusion could draw is that if native speakers disagree, and even the same author uses it sporadically, it's not a matter that is important enough to worry about and few people will even notice. Just pick one and be consistent in your own use.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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