Definite Articles

2.1.2 The Definite Article ‘the’

Use of ‘the’:

1. The definite article is used when the object or group of objects is unique or considered to be unique.

Examples: the earth           the equator          the moon

                  the sun              the stars              the yellow trees

2. The is used to talk about people and things have already been mentioned.

Example: She has two children-a girl and a boy. The boy is fourteen, the girl is eight.

3.The is used before a noun made definite by the addition of phrase or a clause.

Examples: the girl in blue                 the place where I met her

                  the man with the gun       the paper that I write on

4. The is used before a noun which by reason of locality can represent only one particular thing.

Examples: My wife was in the kitchen. (the kitchen of this home)

                Please pass the salt. (the salt on the table)

5. The is used before superlatives and words like first, second, etc. It is used before adjectives or pronouns and before only.

Examples: the first week               the only way          the best plan

6. The  is used as an adverb with a comparative.

Examples: the sooner                 the better               the more the merrier

7. The + singular noun can represent a class of animals or things.

Examples: The tiger is in danger of becoming extinct.

                  The refrigerator has made life easier for housewives.

But “man’’, used to represent the human race, has no article.

Example: Man is mortal.

8. The+ adjective represents a class of persons.

 Examples: the old (old people in general)              the rich

9. The is used before certain proper names of seas, rivers, groups of islands, chains of mountains, plural names of countries, desert, regions, famous buildings, classics, newspapers and abbreviations.

Examples: the Atlantic               the Godavari                  the Himalayas

                 the Hague                 the Arabian Gulf             the North Pole

10) The is used before other proper names consisting of adjective + noun or noun + of + noun

Examples: the Asiatic Society          the Gateway of India

11) The is also used in the given cases:

  • given someone the benefit of the doubt

e.g. two guys wearing the same colored clothes one throws a stone at someone,later they see one of the guys he says it was the other guy, they decide to give him the benefit of the doubt, they cant be sure it was him as they both looked a like

  • go on the rampage

     Violently angry and destructive behavior

  • go to the cinema, the theatre
  • at the national level
  • at the point of the knife
  • she is of the opinion
  • give the slip
  • in accordance with the law
  • I would like to learn the piano. (musical instruments)



From the given options choose the most appropriate one and fill in the blanks given below.

1.    They have formed ________union.

(a)     a                            (b)    the

(c)     an                          (d)    either ‘b’ or ‘c’

(e)     both ‘a’ and ‘b’

2.     I am ________teacher.

(a)    a                             (b)    an

(c)    the                          (d)     either ‘a’ or ‘b’

(e)    none of these

3.      _______ hundred sweets make ________kilo.

(a)    A, a                         (b)     The, the

(c)    An, a                       (d)      A, the

(e)    Either ‘a’ or ‘c’

4.      These were five items in __________dinner held at_________Rajdoot hotel.

(a)     The, the                 (b)      The, a

(c)      A, a                      (d)      An, the

(e)      Either ‘b’ or ‘a’

5.       I could not accept ________dinner offered by him.

(a)     a                            (b)       an

(c)     the                         (d)       none of these

(e)     either ‘c’ or ‘b’


1. (c)        2.(a)         3. (a)          4. (a)          5. (c)