by Jen O Neill
When writing a Dutch address in English, which country name format do you use: Netherlands or The Netherlands?
Both work. Indeed on some English-language web sites you may even see both formats used.
I admit I have always used the “The Netherlands” format in addresses, as do many people. The Dutch themselves, when writing their country name in English in addresses, also tend to use “The Netherlands”. For example, the Taalunie, the Dutch language body, uses this format in its English address as shown on their contact page.
Officially the post office format is “Netherlands”. Try using this list of postal formats for writing country names in addresses.
In English, and several other languages, we use the plural form of the country name, the Netherlands, but in Dutch they now use the singular form, Nederland. However, in the official name of the country, Kingdom of the Netherlands (Koninkrijk der Nederlanden), they still use the plural.
The Netherlands isn’t the only country with “the” as a prefix to its name. Ukraine during the Soviet era was always known in English as “the Ukraine”. However, it is now more frequent to use the name when writing it in text without “the”. On the other hand, a former colonial territory in Africa once known as Gambia now insists since its independence on being called The Gambia.
Did you know that not all countries use postal codes (also known as zip codes)? Around 70 countries in the Universal Postal Union (190 members) don’t use postal codes, including Ireland and Panama (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postal_code). Ireland is currently planning on introducing postal codes. My sister lives in the Irish countryside and currently doesn’t have a single number in her address. Post arrives punctually.
You will also sometimes see the ISO 2-letter country code (ISO 3166-1) prefixed to a country’s postal code (for example, NL-7900). This practice is more frequently seen in continental Europe for international mail.
Addressing an envelope can be enough to drive one to a glass of whiskey. Except that whiskey itself has its own flavours of spelling. To the surprise of many people “whiskey” doesn’t follow standard UK/US English spelling rules. Its spelling depends on its country of origin. Scottish and Canadian whisky. Irish and American whiskey (visit any shop selling the drink for confirmation). “Scottish whiskey” is a serious ouch!
(Note: The author of this article is Irish, so of course “whiskey” has an “e”.)