Question of the day..should it be:

The Netherlands

or

the Netherlands?

Until now, I believed that you should always capitalise “The” regardless of where in the sentence you were writing “The Netherlands”.  I can’t remember exactly how and why I do this but “the Netherlands” just looked wrong and I believed it was due to “The” being part of the country’s official name.

However, recently, I noticed that the official government website www.government.nl uses the second so have done some more research.

Here’s a screenshot from a 2008 translator’s forum, click on the image to view the original post.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 6.43.12 pm

Her only response to this post directed her to the Times Style guide.  The link in that forum is no longer active, but I found this entry in Wikipedia (again click on the image for the original article).

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 6.47.26 pm

Until today, I’d never heard the word “toponymy” – had you?  So I had to look that up too!  Whatever did we do before Google.

  1. Toponymy is the study of place names (toponyms), their origins, meanings, use, and typology.

So their conclusion is that it should be written as “the Netherlands” as it is “similar to names such as “the United States” and “the Federal Republic of Germany”.  There, problem solved.  So from now on, I will write the Netherlands in a middle of a sentence, but still capitalise when beginning a sentence or in a heading or title.

However then my husband raised the question – “Well, what about The Hague?”

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-Renee