Why use a plural article in, for example:

  • les États-Unis
  • les Émirats arabes unis
  • les Pays-bas


  • 1
    This is only partly related to French, as many other languages have the same feature regarding the same countries. Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 14:01
  • Moreover (in addition with comment above), the article is not in the name It is not part of the name. It's sometimes used with it for the reason given in @radouxju 's answer.
    – MC68020
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 14:57

1 Answer 1


The names of the countries mentioned in the question are based on a composition of units, therefore the article is plural. However, most of the countries are "singular". The other exceptions include countries composed of many islands: Les Seychelles, les Philippines...

Les États-Unis d'Amérique (federal republic composed of 50 states)

Les Émirats arabes unis (Federal monarchy composed of 7 emirates)

Les Pays-Bas (historically, 7 independent provinces united to create the Provinces-Unies, which evolved through the time to become today's Royaume des Pays-Bas)

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