Have any questions?

THE – How can I use it correctly?

THE – How can I use it correctly?

THE is what we call  ‘the definite article’. 

 

The most important rule:

We use ‘the’ for something specific, NOT general.

 

the

 

Compare:

I love coffee. general

I love the coffee my husband makes me. specific

 


More exact rules: 

We use ‘the’…

1.

when something is mentioned again

A bird flew into my room and landed on my bed. I called my flatmate to help me catch the bird.

I was sitting in a park and saw a fox. The fox actually came up to me and sat by my feet!

 

2.

with superlatives

Coffee is the best drink in the world.

You are the smartest person I know.

 

 

3.

with groups of society

the poor, the rich, the homeless, the youth

Robin Hood steals from the rich and gives to the poor.

 

 

4.

when there is only 1 of something

the sun, the moon, the president, the government, the Queen

There was an assassination attempt on the prime minister.

 

 

 

5.

with some unnamed public buildings 

the bank, the gym, the post office, the doctor’s surgery

I’m going to the library. I need to use their internet.

 

 

6.

with mountain ranges, oceans, seas, rivers

the Alps, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, the Thames

The Orkney Islands lie in the Atlantic.

 

 

7.

with ‘plural’ countries

the USA, the UK, the Netherlands etc.

I’ve always wanted to to go to the Philippians.

 

 

8.

with instruments

Can you play the piano?

The harp is a very difficult instrument to learn.

 


 

the

There are always exceptions.

Grammatical rules must be learnt, but there are always exceptions that need to be memorised. For example:

 

There is only 1 Buckingham Palace (rule #4), but we do not call it ‘The Buckingham Palace’. However, we do say ‘The Taj Mahal’.

 

Rule #5: If we are speaking about a place in general, or we don’t know the specifics, we do not need ‘the’:

Which gym do you go to?
(NOT Which the gym do you go to?)

 

Is there a bank around here?
(NOT Is there the bank around here?) 

 


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