English GrammarEnglish Speaking

The Definite Article – Talking about it some more


Definite article – the


The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. The signals that the noun is definite, that it refers to a particular member of a group. For example: “The dog that bit me ran away.” Here, we’re talking about a specific dog, the dog that bit me

Definite article, the, is used to refer to a particular member of a group or class. It may be something that the speaker has already mentioned or it may be something uniquely specified. The is the only definite article in English, for both singular and plural nouns.

Already been mentioned

Explain the indefinite article first

When you talk of indefinite article  you are not talking of anything specific but in general terms.

Used before nouns or adjective. Used for the whole group. 

Rich people don’t know how poor people live

Rich people don’t know how the poor live

Rich people are insensitive to the poor people’s problems

The rich are insensitive to the poor people’s problems

The cheetah is found in Africa

Cheetahs are found in Africa

We use the definite article in front of a noun when we believe the listener/reader knows exactly what we are referring to:

Also not used in front of proper noun.

The boy is in the room.

The boy is in Delhi

The Pope is visiting Russia. 

The bus is at the bus stop.

The moon is very bright tonight.

Who is the president of France?

Use the definite article with a superlative adjective:

He is the tallest boy in the class.

It is the oldest building in the town.

Today I am taking the bus.

May I borrow the car

to say something about all the things referred to by a noun:

The wolf is not really a dangerous animal. (= Wolves are not really dangerous animals.)

The kangaroo is found only in Australia. (= Kangaroos are found only in Australia.)

The heart pumps blood around the body. (= Hearts pump blood around bodies.)

We use the definite article in this way to talk about musical instruments:

Joe plays the piano really well.

She is learning the guitar.

to refer to a system or service:

How long does it take on the train?

I heard it on the radio.

You should tell the police.

Single but one and only

The sun

The moon

The stars?

The Taj Mahal

The Eiffel tower

The Big Ben

The only ,,,

The Himalayas

The Alps

The artic

The Indian Ocean

The Ganges

The United States

The Times of India

Next: Demonstrative Pronouns

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