they live in "the" netherlands or in netherlands?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by flamencoIII, Jun 2, 2009.

  1. flamencoIII Member

    Bahia, Brasil

    i would like to know what´s (and why) the correct sentence:

    those people live in the netherlands; or:
    those people live in netherlands.

    thank you
  2. Rational_gaze Senior Member

    British English
    We would say ' the Netherlands'.

    I'm not sure why we say that, when we would say ' Spain'.
  3. mevolution Member

    English, England

    "Those people live in the Netherlands" is correct. "the" is required as "Netherlands" is plural.

    Another example to illustrate..
    "Those people live in North America"
    "Those people live in the United States of America"

    Editied to fix capitalization. Thanks sdgraham for pointing out the error of my ways, I'll be more careful next time.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2009
  4. tepatria Senior Member

    Onondaga, Ontario
    Canadian English
    Welcome to the forum! The name of the country is The Netherlands, so your first answer is correct. I am sure that wiser heads than mine know why it is called The Netherlands, not just Netherlands, but I don't want to make any guesses.
  5. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Absolutely not.

    1. Netherlands must be capitalized.

    2. Netherlands is the name of nation-state and as such, it is singular. One certainly would not say that Netherlands are a member of the United Nations, for example.

    3. American newspaper style, ISO 3166 (the doicumentation of international country codes), and the United Nations all list the name of the country in English as Netherlands, i.e. without the the definite article, but common usage is to say "the Netherlands" as you can see from some of the above posts.

    Also, Flamenco, (and welcome to the forum) please note that under forum rules, proper capitalization is not optional. Posts without at least an attempt at proper capitalization often are in danger of being deleted by our loyal and dedicated moderators.
  6. mevolution Member

    English, England
    My apologies for the capitalization errors, and for the prompt correction sdgraham. I will be more careful in the future.

    I must admit I have not heard the use of Netherlands without the definite article, but alone it is inherently plural.
    land = singular
    lands = plural
    With the additon of the definite article "the Netherlands" becomes a singular entity.
  7. Rational_gaze Senior Member

    British English
    Perhaps the question is partly about why things are this way in common usage, and from that point of view, I think mevolution might well be correct.

    If I heard someone say "Those people live in Netherlands", I would think they were perhaps meaning that the people lived in some kind of general low regions. Maybe that's something to do with it too.
  8. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Hauts-de-Seine, France
    English (Ireland)
    This sounds bizarre to me, the article has to be used surely.

    One would never say "I am from Netherlands", for example.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2009
  9. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    You are welcome to argue with the United Nations on the subject. See this link for reference:

    ... or the European Union. See:

    ... or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

    Some people obviously do use "The Netherlands," but not the above and given that situation, it's hard to be didactic on the subject.
  10. Whatever the United Nations Organisation and some others may say, I have never heard anything other than The Netherlands in BrE. We even use the phrase "the Low Countries" on rare occasions.

    As I understand it, the name is also plural in Dutch, German, Spanish and French; I haven't looked at other languages.
  11. Pticru Senior Member

    U.S.-- English
    Maybe it's because the name functions both as a proper name, but also has an article because of a meaning related to the origin of the name. Examples:

    I'm from the Soviet Union.
    I'm from the U.S.
    I'm from Des Moines, Iowa.
    I'm from The Hague. (Den Haag)
    I'm from The Dalles, Oregon
  12. wimvanos New Member

    I am born Gouda (from the cheese) and so from Holland.
    And Holland is a part of the Netherlands, like Friesland and Zeeland. So the name of the whole country is the Netherlands. In Dutch and German it is singular, in French plural (Les Pays Bas).
    I guess it is "I live in the Netherlands" (not: The Netherlands) and "The Netherlands are member of the UN" (not: is member) but I am not sure.
  13. PaulHewson New Member

    As far as I know, it should be "The Netherlands is...", not "are".

    In German, the Netherlands is also plural ("die Niederlande").
  14. Curious Cusqueña Senior Member

    English - US
    I would write it this way,
    "I live in the Netherlands"
    "The Netherlands is a member of the UN"

    Just so you have another take on it....
  15. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    I wonder what the official name of my country is. Should one say "I live in United States"? Or "in the United States"? And do the Biritsh posters here live in "United Kingdom" or in "the United Kingdom"?

    As to the question. I would also write "the [no caps] Netherlands." And I would treat both "the Netherlands" and "the United States" as singular, not plural.
  16. The OP's question was not whether Netherlands is singular or plural, but whether one should use the definite article before it.
  17. Pticru Senior Member

    U.S.-- English
    The OP also would like to know why.

    The answer to the first question is easy: in English anyway, it MUST have the article. As for one has ventured there yet. I suspect it is because it is not just a name, but a description. The best way to understand this is by looking at the French, as was already mentioned. Les Pays Bas means literally "The Low Countries". You cannot say in English (or French) "I live in Low Countries", because it is not simply a proper name. Therefore you need the article. I live in the Low Countries. I am not going to touch on whether "the" should be capitalized or not, I could see it being ok either way.
  18. mplsray Senior Member

    The following Web page, Welcome to the Netherlands, by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, uses "the Netherlands":

    I was surprised to find that the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary shows "Netherlands" as the main entry and "the Netherlands" and "Holland" as variants. It's not the presence of "Holland" which surprises me, but the presentation of "Netherlands" as the main entry.

    From the point of view of M.-W. editors, then, the definite article does not have to be used. Also, when "the" is used, they don't capitalize it.
  19. chamyto

    chamyto Senior Member

    Burgos, Spain
    One reason......difficult to explain.....

    I´ve always seen "The Netherlands"
  20. mevolution Member

    English, England
    Hi Kevin,

    I suggested in my original post, that the reason that the article "the" was required, was possibly because of the plural nature of the name i.e. "Netherlands" as opposed to "Netherland". Subsequent posts have disproved this, one example being "The Hague", another that comes to mind now is "the Basque Country" (el Pais Vasco) in the North of Spain.

    Another possibility (though maybe not the correct terminology) is that where the article is used, the name or title of the country/region is descriptive in nature. To illustrate with a some examples.

    "the Netherlands" rewritten as "the lands that are nether (lower)"

    "the Basque Country" = "the country of the Basque region/people"

    "the Outer Hebrides" = "the Hebrides which are outer (furthest away)"

    "the Democratic Republic of Congo" = "the region named Congo which is a Democratic Republic"

    This however still wouldn't cover "the Hague", and probably others that don't come to mind at the moment.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2009
  21. Valvs Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    There is no need to argue with either of these respectable organizations, because they totally recognize the Netherlands as the official name of the country. You links point to indexes, and in indexes, name of places are customarily given without the article, even though they are always preceded by "the" when used in speech (with a few exception such as The Hague and The Dallas, where the article is an integral part of the name).

    If you follow your own links and click on "Netherlands" to open the actual documents about the country, you'll see that everywhere inside the documents it is called "the Netherlands".
  22. flamencoIII Member

    Bahia, Brasil
    Hello again. Thank you all very much for your colaboration.
    I would also like to offer my apologies for the capitalization.
  23. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think all the discussion has made it pretty clear that in English, you should say the Netherlands and that this use is reflected in official documents. This should not come across as strange as it parallels other political entities like the United Kingdom and the United States. Mind you, I would still tend to say Holland for the nation unless I'm being very careful.
  24. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
  25. Perticona

    Perticona Senior Member

    Milan, I
    I run across this interesting post and, as a non-English speaker, I gave for granted that the article in "the Netherlands" had always to be used.
    On the contrary, sometimes it is omitted, e.g. a recent BMJ article says "Netherlands tops European healthcare index". Maybe this was just due to the need of being short (it was a paper title), but what should I write for example in a table cell listing the countries of the EU, "The Netherlands" or "Netherlands" only? Thanks.
  26. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    BMJ = British Medical Journal and you're referring to this?
    Netherlands tops European healthcare index | The BMJ

    Yes, it's headline language, where articles are routinely left out. This is the 'News' section of the BMJ. Notice the first paragraph of the article itself:
    The Netherlands, the UK, the Czech Republic. Now, if I was writing a headline, I might also write: 'UK healthcare ranking one place below Czech Republic's'.
  27. Perticona

    Perticona Senior Member

    Milan, I
    Yes, it was the British Medical Journal.
    I agree, your example fits perfectly. But I still have a question in my mind... :confused:

  28. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
  29. Perticona

    Perticona Senior Member

    Milan, I
    Thank you!

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