Is It “the states” Or “The States”?

People often refer to The United States as “the states”. How does one write this?

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  • the states
  • the States
  • the ‘States
  • The States

… or perhaps some other way I’m missing? I vote for the fourth one in the list, since we’re essentially just removing “United” from the name.

This has nothing to do with anything, but just figured I’d throw it out there for my readers.

Founding Editor
  1. Hmmm, I wondered about a similar issue a few weeks ago when writing stuff for the Travellerspoint wiki guide about the Netherlands (or is it The Netherlands?). I ended up deciding on “the Netherlands” because “the” isn’t really part of the time. After all, if you were to sort a list of countries alphabetically, you would the Netherlands would come under N, not T, right?

    Same goes for the States. Seeing as it’s officially the United States of America, I’d just drop the “United” and “of America” bits… leaving you with the States.

  2. I vote for the States. Whenever I refer to my old hometown, San Francisco, I write it out as ‘the City.’ I don’t think capitalizing “The” is necessary. I’m sure there’s some grammatical rule that we should be abiding by, making my vote completely off base. Sheesh, even though I have a BA in English, I’ve forgotten all of that stuff.

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