Definite Article

Definite Article
‘The’ is a definite article. It refers to something and somebody particularly.
i) Referring Back:
‘The’ is used before a definite noun. When a noun is mentioned again, that is, when it
refers back to a noun mentioned already, it takes ‘the’.
This is an old palace. People believe that the palace was built 500 years ago.
ii) Representing Class:
‘The’, like a/an, is used before a singular countable noun mentioned for the first time
when it represents a class, that is, when ‘the’ means ‘all/every’.
For example:
The camel is the ship of the desert.
The lion is a wild animal.
Man/mankind meaning ‘all men/women’ does not take a/an/the:
For example:
Man is mortal. (not a/the man)
Mankind is searching for meaning.
iii) ‘the’ is used before adjectives or participles to represent a class of people:
the rich, the poor, the dead, the dying, the injured/wounded
For example:
The rich are no necessarily happy
The blind deserve our sympathy.
iv) ‘the’ is used before an adjective to denote a quality:
For example:
the white/yellow of an egg
the evil, the good, the beautiful
v) ‘The’ used before a noun considered unique or extraordinary, that is, a noun
treated as equivalent to a superlative adjective. In this construction ‘the’ means
‘the best, the only, or precisely’, so it has a heightening effect on the noun it modifies:
For example:
She is the bride for him.
This is the place for our picnic.
He is the authority on the subject.
vi) ‘The’ is used before a noun whose identity is common knowledge or can be easily
inferred. In this construction ‘the’ denotes a person’s title, rank, or profession
For example:
The President The Prime Minister
The Principal the King/Queen
The Prophet the bench/bar
The Postman the press/media
vii) ‘The’ is used before a singular common noun (place/person) that can be easily
inferred from the situation:
For example:
the police station, the post office, the station, the radio
1. Would you close the gate, please?
2. She is listening to the radio.
3. He will be on the air tonight.
4. Turn on/off the tap, please.
a) radio always takes ‘the’:
She is listening to the radio.
What’s on the radio now?
b) ‘The’ use of the before television is optional:
What’s on the television now?
What’s on television now?
But the is not used in the expression ‘watch TV’:
They are watching TV. (not, the TV)
viii) ‘The’ is used before common nouns denoting musical instruments:
For example:
She is playing the violin/piano/sitar.
He is playing the drum/tabla.
He is accompanied on the violin by an Englishman. (not, She is playing harmonium.)
ix) ‘The’ is used before a noun denoting a unit of measure to mean ‘every’:
For example:
We buy petrol by the gallon/litre.
They are paid wages by the hour/week.
x) ‘The’ is used before both countable and uncountable nouns (singular or plural)
that are made definite by:
a) preposition/preposition phrase
the boy with long hair
the woman in black
the milk in the bottle
the boys/girls/teachers of this school
b) a relative clause
the book/pen/milk/sugar/she bought yesterday
the water/tea/coffee he drinks every day
the birds/animals that live in a forest
xi) ‘The’ is used before a noun placed by the side of a noun clause (that-clause).
For example:
1. The fact that Columbus discovered America is known to all.
xii) ‘The’ is used before a singular countable noun to denote an attribute/a quality.
For example:
The monkey in man still survives.
The dancer in her is dead.
xiii) ‘The’ is used before adjectives in the superlative degree:
the best book, the most beautiful, one of the wisest men, one of the most useful animals
Note: ‘the’ is used in the construction like best/like most:
Which do you like best/most? (not, the best/the most)
N.B: ‘the’ is not used before most/least when it is used in the sense of ‘very’.
For example: It is a most interesting story.
xiv) ‘The’ is used before adjectives in the comparative degree (of the two):
For example:
She is the taller of the two girls.
He is the wiser of the two boys.
Note: the ... the
While expressing parallel increase/decrease ‘the’ is used twice:
The older you grow the wiser you become.
The more you have the more you want.
xv) ‘The’ is used before ordinal numbers and ‘only’:
For example:
the first prize, the only hope, the only son, the second son
xvi) ‘The’ is used before few/little + relative clause:
For example:
I have read the few books I have.
She has spent the little money she had.
xvii) ‘The’ is used before the names of ranges of mountains and hills:
For example:
the Himalayas
the Alps
the Khasi hills
the Vindhyas
the Rocky Mountains
Note: ‘the’ is not used before the following peaks or mountains:
Everest, Kailas, Kanchenjunga, Mont Blanc, Olympus, Snowdon, Mount Abu, Parasnath
The highest mountain in Alps is Mount Blanc.
We use mount (=mountain) and lake in the same way (without the):
Mount Everest (not the) Mount Etna, Lake Superior, Lake Constance
They live near the lake.
They live near Lake Constance. (not the Lake Constance)
xviii) ‘The’ is used before names of groups of islands:
the Andamans
the West Indies
the Hebrides
the Maldives
the Bahamas
the Canaries
Note: ‘the’ is not used before individual islands:
Crete, Malta, Bermuda, Ireland, Sicily, Sri Lanka
xix) ‘The’ is used before names of gulfs, canals, seas, and oceans:
the Atlantic (ocean)
the Pacific (ocean)
the Indian (ocean)
the Mediterranean Sea
the Red Sea
the Persian Gulf
the Gulf of Mexico
the Panama Canal
the Suez Canal
xx) ‘The’ is used before names of rivers/channels:
the Padma the Thames
the Brahmaputra the Avon
the Danube the Euphrates
the Ganga the Amazon
the Rhine the English Channel
the Tyne the Mississippi
the Nile the Bangla Channel
xxi) ‘The’ is used before the name of these republics/kingdom/countries/states:
the Netherlands the Sudan
the Congo the Czech Republic
the UK the USA
the Philippines the GDR
the Netherlands
Have you been to Canada or the United States?
xxii) ‘The’ is used before the names of holy/great books:
the Quran the Bible
the Mahabharat the lliad
xxiii) ‘The’ is used before names of newspaper:
the Daily Star the Daily Observer
the Times the Guardian
the Statesman the Economist
the Washington Post the Dawn
a) The is not used after noun +’s:
I haven’t yet read today’s Statesman. (not, the today’s Statesman)
b) Names of magazines/periodicals are now usually used without ‘the’:
Punch, Outlook, Time Sunday, Today, Vogue
xxv) ‘The’ is used before specifying any of the cardinal directions:
the east/west the north/south
xxv) ‘The’ is used before names of inventions:
the telephone the microscope
the wheel the steam engine
Who invented the telephone? (not, telephone)
xxvi) ‘The’ is used before a common noun considered unique:
the sun/moon the sky/earth
the world/universe the sea/air
xxvii) ‘The’ is used before these nouns:
cathedral, cinema, pictures, theatre, office, station, museum, zoo
I am going to the pictures.
She is going to the cinema/theatre.
They are going to the zoo.
He is in the office now.
(not, She is going to station/museum.)
xxviii) ‘The’ is used before the parts of one’s body and articles of clothing:
The stone hit him on the shoulder.
The trouser you bought fits you well.
I held him by the tie/collar.
More Uses
a) the sky, the sea, the ground, the country, the environment:
We looked up at all the stars in the sky. (Not in sky)
Would you like to live country? (= not in a town)
We must do more to protect the environment. (=the natural world around us)
But we say space (without the) when we mean ‘space in the universe’ .
There are millions of stars in space. (not in the space)
I tried to park my car, but the space was too small.
b) We use ‘the’ before ‘same’ (the same):
Your pullover is the same colour as mine. (not ‘is same colour’)
“Are these keys the same?” “No, they’re different.”
c) (go to) the cinema, the theatre:
I go to cinema a lot, but I haven’t been to the theatre for ages.
When we say the cinema / the theatre, we do not necessarily mean a specific cinema or theatre.
d) We usually say the radio, but television (without the):
I listen to the radio a lot.
I watch television a lot.
We heard the news on the radio.
We watched the news on television.
N.B: The television means the television set:
Can you turn off the television, please?
e) The + adjective
We use the + adjective (without a noun) to talk about groups of people, especially.
The young The rich The sick The blind The injured
The old The poor The disabled The deaf The dead
The elderly The homeless The unemployed
f) The + nationality
You can use the + nationality adjectives that end in ‘–ch’ or ‘–sh’
(the French / the English / the Spanish etc.) the meaning is ‘the people of that country’:
The French are famous for their food. (= the people of French )
The French / the English etc. are plural in meaning. We do not say
‘a French / an English’:
You have to say a Frenchman / an Englishman etc
g) We use ‘the’ with plural names of people and places:
the Taylors (the Taylor family), the Johnsons
h) Building with ‘the’:
English Two
Unit 1 Page # 17
Hotels /restaurants
the Sheraton Hotel, the Holiday Inn
Theatres/ cinemas
the Palace Theatre, the Odeon (cinema)
the Guggenheim Museum, the Hayward Gallery
Other building
the Empire State (Building), the white house, the Eiffel Tower
We often leave out noun:
The Sheraton (Hotel) the Palace (Theatre) the Guggenheim (museum)
Some names are only ‘the + noun’, for example:
The Acropolis, the Kremlin, the Pentagon
i) Name with ‘of’ usually have ‘the’:
For example:
The Bank of England The Museum of Modern Art
The Great Wall of China The Tower of London.
We say:
The University of Cambridge but Cambridge University (without the)
j) Many organization have names with ‘the’:
the European Union, the BBC (= British Broadcasting Corporation), the Red Cross
Fill in the gaps with the definate articles:
1. We went on a walk in ___ forest yesterday.
2. Where is ___ bathroom?
3. My father enjoyed ___ book you gave him.
4. ___ writer who wrote this book is famous.
5. ___ sun rose at 5:17 this morning.
6. ___ President will be speaking on TV tonight.
7. You are ___ tallest person in our class.
8. ___ French enjoy cheese.
9. This is a painting from ___ 1820's.
10. They are travelling in ___ Arctic.
Answer Key
1. the
2. the
3. the
4. The
5. The
6. The
7. the
8. The
9. the
10. the


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