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Definite Articles

The definite article is basically the word ‘the’. When you put ‘the’ in front of a word, you are pointing out something in specific. Definite Articles are used before singular or plural nouns that are specific or particular. When you say the bike, you are saying it is something definite. It is a particular bike. 

English uses the definite article the in front of some geographical names but not in front of others. The pronunciation of the definite article changes, depending on the original sound of the word that it heads. If the word begins with a consonant sound, the ‘e’ in ‘the’ is pronounced 'uh': the (thuh) bat, the (thuh) cat. If the word begins with a vowel sound, the ‘e’ makes a long vowel sound like in sweet: the (thee) automobile, the (thee) exorcist."

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What are Definite Articles?

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There are two types of articles indefinite 'a' and 'an' or definite 'the'. The word “the” is known as the definite article and specifies an exact thing. The difference between the sentences I enjoyed a book you gave me and I enjoyed a book you gave me is that the second sentence refers to a particular, specific book, not just any book. Nouns in English are preceded by the definite article when the speaker is certain that the listener knows already what he is stating.
  • Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.
  • The more things change, the more they are the same.
  • I ate an apple yesterday. The apple was juicy and delicious.
  • The girl who lives next door to me is really cute.

What are Definite Articles

When to Use "The"

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Use the to refer to something which has already been mentioned.
  • I was walking past Britt’s Bakery when I decided to go into the bakery to get some Barbeque sauce.
  • An unarmed man stole 10000$ from the bank on Friday. The thief hasn't been caught yet.
  • There's a position available in my team. The job will involve some international travel.
Use the when you assume there is just one of something in that place, even if it has not been mentioned before.
  • We went on a walk in the forest yesterday.
  • My father enjoyed the book you gave him.
  • Where is the bedroom?.

Use the in sentences or clauses where you define or identify a particular person or object.

  • The man who wrote this book is famous.
  • I scratched the red car parked outside.
  • I live in the small house with a blue door.

Use the to refer to people or objects that are unique.

  • The sun rose at 6:11 this morning.
  • You can go anywhere in the world.
  • Clouds drifted across the sky.
  • The president will be speaking on TV tonight.

Use the before superlatives and ordinal numbers.

  • This is the highest building in London.
  • She read the last chapter of her new book first.
  • This is the third time I have called you today.

Use the with adjectives, to refer to a whole group of people.

  • The French enjoy cheese.
  • The elderly require special attention.
  • She has given a lot of money to the poor.

Use the with decades.

  • He was born in the seventies.
  • This is a painting from the 1820's.

Use the with clauses introduced by only

  • This is the only day we've had sunshine all week.
  • You are the only person he will listen to.
  • The only tea I like is black tea.

Proper Nouns

Use the with names of geographical areas, rivers, mountain ranges, groups of islands, canals, and oceans.

  • They are travelling in the Arctic.
  • Our ship crossed the Atlantic in 7 days.
  • I will go on a cruise down the Nile.
  • Hiking across the Rocky Mountains would be difficult.

Use the with countries that have plural names

  • I have never been to the Netherlands.
  • Do you know anyone who lives in the Philippines?

Use the with the names of hotels & restaurants, unless these are named after a person.

  • They are staying at the Hilton on 6th street.
  • We ate at the Golden Lion.

Use the with countries that include the words "republic", "kingdom", or "states" in their names.

  • She is visiting the United States.
  • Marley and I are visiting the United Kingdom during summer.
  • James is from the Republic of Ireland.

Use the with the names of families, but not with the names of individuals.

  • We're having dinner with the Smiths tonight.
  • The Browns are going to the play with us.

Use the with newspaper names.

  • I read it in the Guardian.
  • She works for the New York Times.

Use the with the names of famous buildings, works of art, museums, or monuments.

  • We went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa.
  • I would like to visit the Eiffel Tower.
  • I saw King Lear at the Globe.

When to Use THE

When Not to Use "The"

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Do not use the with names of countries (except for the special cases above).
  • Germany is an important economic power.
  • He's just returned from Canada.
Do not use the with the names of languages.
  • French is spoken in Tahiti.
  • English uses many words of Latin origin.
  • Indonesian is a relatively new language.
Do not use the with the names of meals.
  • Dinner is my favorite meal.
  • I like to eat breakfast late.
Do not use the with people's names.
  • Daniel is coming over later.
  • Denise Winfield is my boss.

Do not use the with titles when combined with names.

  • Prince Charles is Queen Elizabeth's son.
  • President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

Do not use the after the 's possessive case

  • His brother's car was stolen.
  • Paul's house is over there.

Do not use the with professions

  • Medicine is a well-paid career.
  • He'll probably study engineering.

Do not use the with names of shops

  • I'll get the card at Miller’s.
  • Can you go to Boots for me?

Do not use the with years

  • 1948 was a wonderful year.
  • He was born in 1985.

Do not use the with uncountable nouns

  • Rice is an important food in Asia.
  • Milk is often added to tea in England.
  • War is destructive.

Do not use the with the names of individual mountains, lakes and islands

  • Mount McKinley is the highest mountain in Alaska.
  • She lives near Lake Windermere.
  • Have you visited Long Island?

Do not use the with most names of towns, streets, stations and airports

  • Victoria Station is in the center of London.
  • Can you direct me to Wall Street?
  • She lives in Florence.
  • They're flying into Heathrow.

When not to Use THE

Examples of Definite Articles

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A few examples of definite articles are mentioned below:
  • Can we go to the park?
  • I have found a solution to the problem.
  • I've read a book on the life of Anne Frank.
  • The school that Catherine goes to is old.
  • The bus to Dresden leaves at 7.20.
  • The round church in Klingenthal is famous.
  • I like the flowers in your garden.
  • The Kardashians live in Chicago.
  • the Statue of Liberty
  • the Tower (of London)
  • the Isle of Wight
  • the Atlantic (Ocean)
  • the Mediterranean (Sea)
  • I always remember the Saturday when I had an accident.
  • The August of 2003 was hot and dry.


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Highlight the Definite article from the below sentences.
  • I bought the most expensive present.
  • I think the Philippines is a beautiful country.
  • Jack loves the Netherland and works in the Hague.
  • Have you put the cat out?
  • It's the postcard that I have in my office.
  • We visited the Sistine Chapel when we were in Rome.
  • The man rubs his head and says, ‘Ouch! Where’d that bar come from?
  • We are going to see the Statue of Liberty this weekend.
  • Let’s open the Chardonnay that Pamela and Daley gave us for our anniversary.
  • The quick, brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
  • She is going to select the furniture that she needs.
  • The moon is very bright tonight.

Fill in the blanks with Definite Articles.

  • Mount Everest is _______ highest mountain on earth.
  • We had a very nice meal in that restaurant. ________ wine was good too.
  • They got married but _______ marriage wasn't successful.
  • We visited grandma in _______- hospital twice last week.
  • Braille is a system of reading and writing by touch for ________blind.
  • Those people with jobs have enough money but life is not so easy for ________
  • Agnes has been a nurse all her life. She has spent her life caring for ___________
  • Do you know  ________who live next door?
  • ________ Plaza Hotel is on the corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue.
  • Last night at eight we were watching the news on BBC.
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