ENGLISCH/830: Questions to Mrs. Gobbledygook (155) nation or country? (SB)


155. Nation or Country?

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook

... my question ist rather simple: What is the difference between the words nation and country? I would be very pleased, if you could help me with this problem.

Yours sincerely,

Wolfram E. (from Munich, Germany)


Dear Mr E.

The word nation has a narrower meaning than the word country. Both words refer to an area in the world under one government with one language and one culture. However the word country is more general. You can use that word to talk about the geographical place. Here is an example:

A: "Where are you going for your holidays this year?" B: "Italy!" A: "Again?" B: "I know, but it's such a beautiful country. It's got everything: Mountains, lakes, beautiful beaches, pretty villages..."

You could not use the word nation there and say: Italy is a beautiful nation. That is, because the idea of a nation always includes the people and social structures.

Here are two examples about how you might find the word nation on the news:

At a meeting today of the major industrialized nations it was decided to increase the amount of aid, given to the developing nations.

Sometimes the word nation is used just to refer to the people of a country. So the news might continue like this:

The president will appear life on television tonight to address the nation about the problems faced by developing countries.

You may have noticed at the end of this example that the word country can be used in the same way as nation. We can talk about developing nations and industrialized nations, or developing countries and industrialized countries.

The word country can also be used in a completely different sense where it's the opposite of town or city. Here an example:

A: "Did I tell you I was moving house?" B: "No - which part of London are you moving to?" A: "I'm not staying in London. I'm moving to the country. I'm sick of city life."

Does this get you any further with your studies?
Thanks for writing


Mrs Gobbledygook

9 February 2009