If I want to write the name of a region like "(the) Middle East" or "(the) Northern Africa", do I have to put the definite article in front of that? Is there a general rule?

Thank you.

  • 2
    I would say "the Middle East" and not "the Northern Africa" and I don't know why I use "the" in one case and not the other!
    – djna
    Apr 25, 2023 at 5:19
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? The usage of the articles 'a' and 'the' for describing natural things Apr 25, 2023 at 6:26
  • "The Middle East" is not a determiner for "the East", but "Northern Africa" is a region of what we otherwise call "Africa" (and not "The Africa").
    – Joachim
    Apr 25, 2023 at 9:20

1 Answer 1


I am speculating here.

I also say "the East Midlands" and not "the West Yorkshire" when referring to regions in England. That leads me to note that we say "the Midlands" and not "the Yorkshire".

So I speculate that the difference is that Africa and Yorkshire are formal names and we don't use "the" with formal names. We don't say

the David

we do say

the young man

East and Midlands are descriptive terms that have become nouns.

  • I like this speculation, thanks.
    – Haldot
    Apr 25, 2023 at 23:48

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