I've reported this twice - "Where is the United States" is grammatically incorrect, and the default answer should be "Where are the United States".
It should be singular in this sentence, because "the United States" is the name of a country, singular. It's the same with the United Nations: "Where is the United Nations?" is correct, because the UN is one thing. To get a plural, you'd have to ask "Where are the nations of the United Nations?" and "Where are the states of the United States?"
This is how I see it, too.
Same with all the other countries whose name is in plural, such as the Netherlands or Philippines.
This is wrong. As a matter of historical linguistics, the use of "United States" as a plural subject tapered off (in the US at least) around the time of the civil war, i.e., 1860s. It is now invariably used in the singular.
"Invariably"? I am a native speaker of English and every time this sentence has come up, I have instinctively said "Where are the United States?" and been buzzed wrong. It is only because I now remember this thread that I get the question "right".
Odd, I've never heard it in the plural and only ever read it in the plural in old historical documents. Every prescriptive grammar I've seen also has it in singular. Where are you from? Might be a dialectical thing. Like how the English use the plural for collective nouns like "government" whereas we'd only ever use singular in the US.
I"m Canadian. Like I said earlier post, I don't dispute that the "United States" can be, or even may generally be, treated as a singular noun. This is why I didn't really push the issue when I first raised it 5 months ago. That said, when presented with the bare sentence "Gdzie są Stany Zjednoczone", with absolutely no other context, "are" strikes me as more natural.
Perhaps it is a "mistake", perhaps it is dialectical, or perhaps even I am simply being miscued by the "są". My feeling, however, is that that "are" should be accepted as an answer (as I understand from Marek's post that it now is), given that the "mistake" is an English issue, not a Polish one, and that a learner making the "mistake" is not all evidencing a misunderstanding of the Polish sentence.
If it helps, I'm a native New Yorker, and "where is the United States" sounds odd to me, as well. I'd be more likely to say "where are the United States" and "where is the U.S.".
Although I don't dispute that the USA is (!) often referred to as a singular in various contexts, the sentence "Where is the United States?", in isolation, strikes me as unnatural.
Tend to disagree. "Where is the USA/United States? Oh, it's between Mexico and Canada" sounds fine to me. I refer to British usage; Canadian might be different :-). "Where are the Southern States/the New England States?" but those are not the names of a country.
Hmm....query whether "is" or "are" is most natural in "Where _ ......" --the Philippines --the Seychelles --the Maldives --the Netherlands --Trinidad & Tobago --the Faroe Islands --Saint Kitts & Nevis --the Twin Cities (as in Minneapolis and St Paul)
Is should be accepted, everyone would say 'is' in this context despite what grammarians say.