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The Definite Article: The

The definite article "The" is one of the most common words in the English language.
Letters forming the word: Article. Photo.
Åpne bilde i et nytt vindu

Main rule:

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:

  1. singular and plural nouns: The book was cheap. The books were cheap.
  2. 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.
  3. the names of newspapers, hotels, restaurants, theatres and museums: He always buys the Daily Mail. They stayed at the Savoy.
  4. 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

  1. 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.
  2. about things and people when we talk about them in general.Cats are lovely animals. Workers were called in to repair the road.
  3. 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-SASkrevet av Sonja Nygaard-Joki, Per Lysvåg og Karin D. Løken. Rettighetshaver: NKI
Sist faglig oppdatert 15.08.2019


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