Using the Zero article (-)
Sometimes the name of a place does not include an article. Unfortunately, there isn’t a rule for this. In these examples the point of the compass is an adjective
We spent some time in South America
He’s from North America
We travelled through North Carolina
Have you been to South Dakota
He works in East Africa
I live in North London
We’re moving to South London
- Some places use ‘northern’, ‘southern’ etc in their names.
We’re going to Northern Ireland
She grew up in Western Australia
- You can also use northern, southern etc to refer to a large area.
He recommended going to eastern Spain
Their factories are based in western China
The food is fantastic in Southern Italy.
- Points of the compass can also be adverbs and we don’t use an article for these either.
Walk south until you get to a park
They drove north for a few hours.
He lives 20 miles south of Madrid
Using the definite article (the)
- We use ‘the’ when the point of the compass is a noun. As you can see, we often use ‘of’ after it.
I lived in the south of the city
The troubles are in the west.
We visited the south-east of Germany
They always go to the south of France in the summer.
- Use capitals when part of the name
The West Country
The North Pole
The Far east
Using the indefinite article (a/an)
- We use ‘a/an’ when the point of the compass is an adjective and it is followed by a noun.
We have a south facing garden.
He has a northern accent.
They have an east coast cottage.