The Definite Article

Posted by Manjusha. Filed in English Grammar

The is called the definite article because it is used to refer to a particular person or thing.

Uses

To talk about a person/thing already mentioned

When a person/thing has been mentioned earlier, the definite article is used in later references to that particular person/thing.

To talk about a person/thing known to the listener

We use the definite article (the) before a noun when we expect the listener/reader to know which particular person(s) or thing(s) we are talking about.

To talk about unique things or events

We use the to talk about unique things or events.

Most nouns that represent things that are the only ones of their kind also take the before them.

Examples are: the sun, the moon, the earth, the city, the Nile, the country, the sea, the weather etc.

This use of the is possible even when we are talking about somebody/something that the listener knows nothing about?

With expressions referring to our physical environment

The is used in a number of expressions referring to our physical environment.

Examples are: the town, the weather, the rain, the wind, the country, the sunshine, the sea, the city etc.

With adjectives referring to a particular class of people

We use the before certain adjectives referring to a particular class of people.

Examples are: the blind, the dead, the poor, the disabled etc.

With superlatives

Superlative adjectives take the before them.

With singular nouns that represent a whole class

We use the before a singular noun when it is used to represent the whole class of things to which it belongs.

 

Sections in this article

Introduction to Articles
The Definite Article
Cases where the definite article should not be used
The Indefinite Article
Cases where articles should not be used
What to use - A/an or the
The difference between some/any and no article
Common expressions without articles
Articles: special rules and exceptions