Last Updated : 27 Dec 2018

THE DEFINITE ARTICLE

Definition:
The Definite Article ‘the’ generally specifies and identifies. It answers the question: ‘Which one?’ It specifies a person, place, or thing alrady mentioned.

The definite article the means this, that. It answers the question which one?. It can be used with both singular and plural nouns. A noun is first inroduced with the indefinite article and the definite article is used to refer to it again.

Rules for THE

1. The superlative degree :

e.g.

The bestThe tallestThe least

2. The names of

e.g.

RiverThe Ganges
SeasThe Arabian Sea
OceansThe Pacific Ocean
BaysThe Bay of Bengal
TrainsThe Blumountain Express
BanksThe State Bank of India
ShipsThe Queen Elizabeth is a famous British liner

3. The words King and Queen

e.g.

The King of FranceThe Queen of England

But the is not used before the words King and Queen if they are followed by the name of the king or queen.

King George V (the Fifth)Queen Elizabeth II (the Second)

4. Do not put ‘the’ before the names of games

e.g.

I play cricketShe loves tennis

Similarly: football, rugby, hockey, polo, baseball, chess, etc.

5. Put the before the names of musical instruments.

e.g.

She plays the guitarHe plays the violin

6. Do not put ‘the’ before the names of single mountains or hills.

e.g.

Mt. EverestNanga Parbat

But ‘the’ must be put before the names of mountain ranges or ranges of hills.

The HimalayasThe Alps

7. Use ‘the’ with ordinals : as

e.g.

The firstThe tenth
He was the first man to arriveThe tenth chapter of the book is very interesting

8. Do not put ‘the’ before the names of meals if they refer to the meals generally, as a part of the daily routine.

e.g.

I have breakfast at eight every morning
We have lunch in the afternoon.

But the must be used when the meal is a particular one, thought of as a social function.

The dinner will be held at the Park Plaza

9. We say all day, all night; but :

e.g.

All the morningAll the afternoon
All the eveningAll the week

10. Use ‘the’ before the names of municipal or government departments and before the names of shops, business houses, industrial concerns; banks, etc. except when they begin with a personal noun.

e.g.

The Ministry of EducationThe Public Library
The Grand HotelThe State Bank of India

11. Do not use ‘the’ before the names of railway stations when they are also place names.

12. Do not use ‘the’ before the name of language.

LanguageInhabitants
EnglishThe English
FrenchThe French

e.g.

We are learning English
The English have been a sea-faring people for many countries
The French live in France and speak French.

13. ‘the’ may be used before a name which ends in Road, but it may also be omitten

e.g.

He lives in Gandhiji Road
I bought this pen at a shop in the Salamon Road

14. Purpose for which the building exists visit or inspection.

e.g.

go to schoolgo to the school
go to collegego to the college
go to hospitalgo to the hopsital
go to prisongo to the prison

When ‘the’ is omitten, the reference is to the purpose for which the building exists.

e.g.

Students go to school to study
Christians go to church to pray

With ‘the’ the reference is merely to the building. It is the visit or inspection that is referred to, not the actual purpose.

e.g.

He went to the school to meet the Headmaster
He went to the chruch to look at the buildings.

15. Do not put the before the names of substances if they are used in a general sense.

e.g.

Gold is a precious metal
We drink water
Apples are good for health

But ‘the’ must be used if the reference is to a particular kind of specimen of the substance:

e.g.

The gold mined here is of poor quality
The water in that well is very dry

16. Do not put ‘the’ before plural nouns when they are using in a general or a univercel sense.

e.g.

The aeroplanes of the Jet Airways are well-maintained
The apples from Kashmir are costly

17. Do not use ‘the’ before the names of countries unless the name suggests that the country is made up of smaller units or constituent parts.

e.g.

JapanFranceItaly
The United State of AmericaThe U.K.,The U.S.S.R.,

18. ‘the’ is used before a singular noun to express what we call the generic singular, i.e. the one thing mentioned is taken to represent all of the kind.

e.g.

The tiger and the cat belong to the same family of animals.

An exception to the above rule is the noun man when it is used to denote the human race as a whole.

19. ‘the’ is used before common nouns which are names of things unique or their kind: (Before a noun of a thing which exists only one)

e.g.

The sunThe moonThe earth

20. ‘the’ is used before an adjective when the noun is understood.

e.g.

The rich must help the poor

21. is also used as an adverb with comparatives.

e.g.

The more you study, the more you learn
The earlier you come, the better of you

The two uses of the articles

Generic use

When the articles, a, an and the are used to refer to the whole class with interchangeable option, they are called to be in the generic use.

e.g.

A cow is a useful animal
The cow is a useful animal

In the above two, we talk about the whole class of cow with the use of ‘a’ in the first sentence and ‘the’ in the second sentence.

Anaphoric use of ‘the’

When we introduce a singular noun for the first time, we use a or an and later we use the to refer to the same noun. This kind of use is called anaphoric use of ‘the’.

e.g.

I saw a policeman. He was very tall and shout.
But the policeman did not possess any kindness

In the above sentences, we introduce the policeman with ‘a’ and later we use the. This is anaphoric use of ‘the’.

 

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