by Olga Koliichuk
The is the definite article.
You use it when you talk about something that you know. When it’s known, it’s defined. So that’s why it’s called the definite article.
(Another article in English is “a” or “an,” which we talked about last time.)
When To Use The
Here are some examples of “the:”
Look at the title of this article:
There’s only one Pacific Ocean, so we know which one we talk about. So I have to say “the Pacific Ocean.”
It wouldn’t make sense to say “a Pacific Ocean.” That would mean there is more than one Pacific Ocean. And that’s just not true.
Suddenly I heard a voice. The voice was very low.
In the first sentence you hear a voice. We don’t know anything about this voice yet. It’s the first time we hear it. We don’t know who it belongs to, nor where it comes from. It’s just a voice. In the second sentence, you say “the voice.” Why? Because you mean the voice that you talked about in the first sentence. We know that it is the same voice.
Last example: I saw a cat. The cat was black.
The first sentence merely tells you that some cat appeared. We don’t know anything about this cat. In sentence 2 we know that “the cat” is the one from the first sentence. Now we also learn that it is black.
Conclusion: As soon as you use “the” there is only one of the thing that you are talking about, and/or you mean only to talk of this one specific thing.
Now see if the following makes sense to you.
Some Rules for Using the Definite Article
THE is used :
- With unique objects/people: the Moon, the Sun and the Pope.
- With superlative adjectives: the tallest student, the biggest bag, the most beautiful movie star. (Because only one can be the best, the tallest, etc.)
- With particular objects/people:
– Look at the girl over there (at that very girl, not some other).
– Can I take the keys? (everyone knows which keys you are talking about)
4. With objects already mentioned: He was looking for a flat. The flat needed to have two rooms.
5. With nouns or adjectives that possess some general property: the poor will get it worse after the budget has been passed, but the rich will feel the cuts too; the stars are too far away from us to travel to.
6. With surnames to indicate all the members of a family: the Smiths are very kind.
7. With some newspapers and magazines: the Economist, the Times, the Wall Street Journal.
8. With famous works of art: the Mona Lisa, the Black Square, the Girl with a Pearl Earring.
9. With hotels, restaurants and cafes: the Moscow, the Ritz, the Hardrock Cafe.
10. With organizations: the UN, the EU and the KGB.
Here are some more examples of names that are used with “the:”
- Names of seas: the Black Sea, The Dead Sea, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea.
- Lakes: the Great Salt Lake, the Great Lakes, the Lake District.
- Names of mountain ranges, groups of islands, rivers, seas, oceans and canals: the Panama Canal, the English Channel, the Dnepr, the Canaries, the Pacific Ocean, the Himalayas.
- Countries whose names include words like kingdom, republic or states: The United States, The United Kingdom, the Republic of China, the Czech Republic.
- With countries in the plural: the Netherlands, the Philippines, the Seychelles.
Exercise 1. Where do you need to put the?
- _____ Belgium is a small country.
- In ______ Republic of China there are a lot of Buddhist monasteries.
- _____ Netherlands and Holland mean the same.
- I don’t like ______ Stewarts because they are too arrogant.
- I read _____Economist every week.
- Let’s go to _________ Elysium tonight!
- _______Everest is the highest mountain on Earth.
- Have you noticed _____ girls standing next to Bill?
- ______ graphic designer should be creative.
- She works as ______ teacher.
- He is _________ actor I saw in The Hunger Games.
You will find the answers when you scroll down.
1. _-____ Belgium is a small country.
2. In ___the___ Republic of China there are a lot of Buddhist monasteries.
3. __The___ Netherlands and Holland mean the same
4. I don’t like __the____ Stewarts because they are too arrogant.
5. I read __the___Economist every week.
6. Let’s go to __the_______ Elysium tonight!
7. ___The____Everest is the highest mountain on Earth.
8. Have you noticed __the___ girls standing next to Bill?
9. ___A___ graphic designer should be creative.
10. She works as ___a___ teacher.
11. He is _____the____ actor I saw in The Hunger Games.