It is often confusing to get place names right, especially if you are not a native speaker. Native speakers seem to know intuitively that we say ‘Buckingham Palace’ but ‘The Royal Opera House’. So, if you never learned this as a child, how can you tell when to insert ‘the’? Here is a list to start you off!
Geographical Place Names
Large areas, counties, towns and even villages appear without the definite article (‘the’). So we have:
New South Wales
However, if the place name refers to a group of places then we add ‘the':
The Cayman Islands
The Gold Coast
The Sahara Desert
All of these refer to several different places in a region and so, in effect, they are plural.
Lakes and Mountains
This rule about singulars and plurals holds for lakes and mountains too. So we have:
The Snowy Mountains
The Great Lakes
So, if you are referring to several landmarks, you will need to use ‘the’.
Exception to the rule: Buildings and Monuments
Unfortunately, as always with English, this rule does not hold in all cases. Some buildings and monuments take ‘the’ and others don’t. You will just have to memorise these, or have your work checked by a native speaker. For example:
The National Theatre
Sydney Opera House
The Eiffel Tower
Federal Square Building
Generally, museums, bars, hotels, theatres, and galleries take ‘the':
Shall we go to the Sydney Museum this weekend?