Definite articles

  • In English, the only definite article is the. It precedes singular and plural nouns and noun phrases. It’s used in three main contexts.


    1.  The precedes a noun or noun phrase that needs no further qualification—for example:

    The weather was horrible.

    The Senate is a mob of 100 wholly owned political subsidiaries. [USA Today]

    [S]omeone reported being bitten by a dog. The dog was quarantined. [The Umpqua Post]

    2.  The precedes a thing that is about to be clarified. Here are three examples in one sentence (the fourth the being of the first type):


    The earthquake that hit Haiti last month destroyed the house of the man who owns the world’s largest collection of Haitian art. [Guardian]

    3.  When a mass noun calls for an article, the is used:

    the furniture

    the poetry

    the beauty


    1. William Hively says

      Is this word pronounced differently depending whether the next word starts with a vowel or consonant? Does “the apple” = “the banana?”

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