《South of [place], south [place], and southern [place]》
（文╱Robert Tolmasoff）When talking about locations, writers and speakers need to use caution. Consider the following sentences. In the examples here, the term “south” or “southern” is used; however, the guidelines here apply to all directions, such as “north” and “northern”, etc.
What is the difference between these sentences? Are these sentences grammatically correct?
Our new manufacturing facility is south of Taiwan.
Our new manufacturing facility is in south Taiwan.
Our new manufacturing facility is in southern Taiwan.
Let’s break down each one of these sentences to find out the true meaning and whether it is correct. First, let’s start with:
Our new manufacturing facility is located south of Taiwan.
This sentence is grammatically correct; however, it might not say what you want to express. The phrasing “south of [place]” means that the location is to the south of the place. “South of Taiwan” is the a waterway called the Bashi Channel and further south of Taiwan is The Philippines. So the expression “south of [place]” refers to some point to the south of the location.
Next up is the following sentence.
Our new manufacturing facility is located in south Taiwan.
Normally when a direction like “south” or “north” is placed directly in front of a proper noun like “Taiwan”, it is referring to part of a proper name, such as a name of a country, state, or city. Some examples are listed below.
South Africa-The name of the country South Africa.
North Korea-The country name.
North Dakota-The name of the one of the US states.
There are exceptions. For example, the Northern Territories in Australia uses the adjective “Northern” in the place name. However, in general, whenever a direction like “south” is placed in front of a name, it refers to a specific place name.
“South” or other directions can also be used in a general sense. For example,
Our new manufacturing facility is in the south.
Our new manufacturing facility is down south.
Both of the sentences above are correct; however, they are not very specific because as readers or listeners we are not sure where “south” is located. It is best to be more specific, like in the following sentence.
Our new manufacturing facility is located in southern Taiwan.
This sentence correctly states where the manufacturing facility is located. The grammar is also correct, because the adjective “southern” modified the noun “Taiwan”.
Robert Tolmasoff is a trainer, editor, and author based in Taipei. His clients include international companies as well as individuals looking to sharpen their communications skills. Robert’s last two books, 上班族完美英文e-mail輕鬆寫 and 1000 Essential Business English Terms, are available in books stores and from McGraw-Hill Taiwan. Have ideas for future columns or questions? Email Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org