The definite article "The" is one of the most common words in the English language.
We put the in front of a noun to refer to people and things we assume our reader/listener knows about and can identify: The office is now closed.
We use it in front of:
- singular and plural nouns: The book was cheap. The books were cheap.
- the names of some countries, groups of islands, mountain ranges, oceans and rivers: the United Kingdom, the United States (of America), the Netherlands, the Himalayas, the English Channel, the Bahamas.
- the names of newspapers, hotels, restaurants, theatres and museums: He always buys the Daily Mail. They stayed at the Savoy.
- nouns like theatre, cinema, office when we think about them in general. I’m going to the cinema.
More detailed information
The definite article is not used
- in front of abstract nouns when we talk about them in a general sense. However, we need the definite article if we refer to a particular example of such nouns. Life is short. But: It was different from the life he used to live.
- about things and people when we talk about them in general.Cats are lovely animals. Workers were called in to repair the road.
- a number of fixed expressions: to go by car/plane/train, to go to/be in prison, to go to/be in church, to go to/be in school.She goes to school every day. My cousin went to church every Sunday when she was younger.
Now try the following task:
CC BY-SAWritten by: Sonja Nygaard-Joki, Per Lysvåg and Karin D. Løken. Rightsholder: NKI
Last revised date 08/15/2019