When Do I Include “the” in a Country’s Name?

Naming countries in English is generally pretty straightforward. You just say the name and, well, that’s it. France, Germany, Ireland etc. But while having a look at where my blog visitors came from yesterday (I’m always intrigued by where you all come from), I noticed¬†a few cases of country names that require just a little bit more grammar. Those were: the Netherlands, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates. Not a huge difference, but obviously, these countries are always preceded by the.

You can probably think of a few more similar names: the United States, the United Kingdom, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ukraine, the Czech Republic, the Bahamas, and so forth. But why do these countries get special treatment? Continue reading

The Ten Most Common Words in the English Language

Before finding out what they are, please have a guess at what you think the ten most common words in the English language are (note that by word I mean the main word form, which¬†includes other forms of that word. For example, only dog would appear in the list, not dogs; or have might appear but not has, had or having). So you can’t see the list by mistake, here’s a picture of some puppies. Scroll past them (if you can) for the list. Continue reading