Uses of the definite article

July 23, 2010pdf

To talk about a particular person or thing

The definite article the is used to talk about a particular person or thing.

  • The book you want is out of print. (Which book? The one you want.)
  • Let’s go to the park. (Which park? May be the one in the town.)

The definite article the is also used to talk about a person or thing that has already been referred to.

  • I saw a girl in the park. The girl was crying. (Which girl? The one I saw in the park.)

Before a singular noun meant to represent the whole class

When a singular noun is meant to represent a whole class to which it belongs, it is used with the definite article the.

  • The cow is a useful animal. (Here the singular noun cow represents a whole class.)
  • The rose is the sweetest of all flowers.
  • The spider has eight legs.

Note that these sentences can also be written using a plural noun without any article.

  • Cows are useful animals.
  • Roses are the sweetest of all flowers.
  • Spiders have eight legs.

Before the names of certain books

Examples are: The Vedas, The Illiad

Before superlative adjectives

The definite article the is used before superlative adjectives.

  • She is the best person I have seen.
  • Which is the highest mountain in the world?

Before ordinal numbers

  • Who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize?
  • The first half of the film is more interesting than the second half.

Before musical instruments

  • He can play the flute.

As an adverb with comparatives

  • The more the merrier.
  • The more they get, the more they want.
  • The higher you climb, the cooler it gets.
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