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I wonder if both phrases are correct and which one(s) sound(s) natural and idiomatic.

In "the country China", is 'China' in apposition with 'the country'?

Are there any differences if I say "I want to travel to the country of China" or "I want to travel to the country China"? Or if these two sentences are not correct in the first place?

Also, if I just say “I want to travel to China”, what would be the difference from the two sentences above?

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Neither of these sounds idiomatic:

I want to travel to the country of China.

I want to travel to the country China.

These are idiomatic:

I want to travel to China.

I want to travel to a country that I have never visited before, China.

I want to travel to the most important country in Asia, China.

Every year I visit India. This year I want to travel to a different country, China.

I have heard that China is a great country. I hope some day to visit the great country of China.

I want to travel to China, a large country in East Asia.

Even if it was a country that the reader or listener might never have heard of, you still wouldn't say "the country of". For example, you wouldn't say "the country of Azerbaijan". If you wanted to explain it to the audience, you'd say "I want to travel to a country called Azerbaijan" or "I want to travel to Azerbaijan, a country in southwest Asia".

  • But you mentioned in your example "......the great country of China". – dan Sep 4 '17 at 7:05
  • Yes. It's idiomatic if you're applying an adjective, but otherwise it sounds a bit odd. – rjpond Sep 4 '17 at 7:06
  • Funnily enough, we say "the state of Texas", "the city of Manchester", "the village of Donisthorpe", "the county of Lancashire", "the continent of Antarctica", but not "the country of China" - unless qualified by an adjective. It may not be incorrect as such, but your question was about what would sound natural and idiomatic. – rjpond Sep 4 '17 at 7:52
  • What if putting the country of China and the country China in other contexts? Will it be possible to be idiomatic in some circumstances? I saw a sentence in my dictionary: "I love Chinese food and the country of China." Does it sounds unnatural? – dan Sep 4 '17 at 10:07
  • It sounds OK, but I'm not sure if a native speaker would be likely to say it. I would be more likely to say "I love Chinese food - and China, too" or "I love Chinese food, and I love China". In the British National Corpus, there are 5,207 instances of "China", but only one of "country of China" (and it has an adjective before "country"). The BNC has only two or three instances of "country of "+country name without an adjective, amid more than 400 instances of "country of". Haven't checked American corpora yet. – rjpond Sep 4 '17 at 12:14
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'country China' would be a rather obscure way of expressing a part of China that is not city: rural areas of China.

I was disgusted by the dirty, noisy Bejing, but the country China was charming, with the picturesque rice fields and wild mountains.

'the country of China' is not really something you commonly encounter, because 'China' is quite unambiguous; you'd use this form though when there are different entities of the same name, and one of them is a country.

No, I haven't visited the Georgia state north of Florida! I was to the country of Georgia, in the Caucasus mountains!

In the unlikely case confusion occurred, "Which China do you mean?", you could say "The country of China".

Otherwise, you'll just say 'China' without the classifier: "I've been to China."

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