What does "The" emphasize in the phrase "The UK has approved a COVID vaccine"? It seems to mean that "UK has approved a COVID vaccine" is itself OK. I am not very sure.

The UK has approved a COVID vaccine — here’s what scientists now want to know The Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine has passed safety and efficacy tests — but scientists still have many questions about how this and other vaccines will perform as they’re rolled out to millions of people.

Source: Nature Dec.3, 2020

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    'The United Kingdom' is the standard way to refer to the nation (the same as 'the United States' and other nations whose official name is a phrase). Dec 6, 2020 at 16:29
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    It is part of the name of the country "The UK" but not "The Britain" See Using THE before some countries
    – James K
    Dec 6, 2020 at 16:32
  • Thank you. But if so, why there has never been "The China" but always "China"?
    – NewPlanet
    Dec 6, 2020 at 16:33
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    See the linked question... "The UK", "The USA", "The Russian Federation", "The Peoples Repubic of China" .... but "Britain", "America", Russia", "China"...
    – James K
    Dec 6, 2020 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


It depends on whether the name of the country is just a proper noun or a common noun/collection of common nouns.

For example:

The United Kingdom: is a collection of common nouns

The United States of America is a collection of common nouns followed by a proper noun


Russia: Just a proper noun

China: Just a proper noun

Britain: Just a proper noun

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