Using “the” with Place Names

Every good student of English knows that every countable noun has an article – a, an, or the – in front of it.   (For a review lesson on the use of articles, please see this link. You may also know that some place names are preceded by a “the” and some are not.  For example, we say the Atlantic Ocean but Lake Johnson.  Both are bodies of water, so why do we use “the” in front of one but not the other?  Here are some tables to help you know when to use “the” in front of a place name and when not.  When you are finished studying the charts, try this online quiz for practice.

Do NOT use “the” with …

Continents

North America

Countries

Mexico

States

North Carolina

Provinces

Ontario

Cities

Raleigh

Streets

Hillsborough Street

Mountains

Mt. Mitchell

Lakes

Lake Johnson

Parks

Pullen Park

Use “the” with …

Deserts

The Sahara

Plural Countries

The United States

Oceans

The Atlantic Ocean

Seas

The Caribbean Sea

Rivers

The Mississippi River

Plural Mountain Ranges

The Blue Ridge Mountains

Buildings

The Empire State Building

Kingdoms

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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