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Main Cases of the use of the Definite Article


The Definite article has the meaning of definiteness = specifying meaning. It arises from the previous mention of the noun in the context. eg. We have a house in the country. The house is small.

The Definite Article is used:

1. when the situation makes the object definite, when the speaker and listener know what particular object is meant: eg. Open the door, please.

2. when the speaker uses an attribute pointing out particular objects (a particularizing attribute): eg. This is the flat I live in.

3. with nouns in word-groups the first element of which is SOME, NONE, MOST, MANY and the second noun with the preposition OF:

eg. Most of the ladies looked pleased.

4. with nouns denoting unique things: eg. The sun was bright.

5. to denote something which is unique in some way:

e.g. Which is the tallest building in the world?

6. with nouns modified by adjectives in the superlative degree:

eg. This is the shortest story.

7. with nouns modified by the pronoun SAME, NEXT, WRONG, RIGHT, VERY, ONLY, LAST: eg. He asked the same question.

8. with nouns modified by the ordinal numeral: eg. Iím reading the first chapter.

9. the definite article has a generic meaning when the noun is used in a general sense and denotes the whole class: eg. The telephone was invented in the 19th century.

When the noun MAN is used in a general sense no article is used:

eg. Woman is manís helpmate.

10. with the name of a group of mountains: the Alps, the Himalayas

11. with the name of a canal, river, sea ocean: the Atlantic, the Mississippi

12. with the names of certain countries: e.g. the United States; the Lebanon

13. with the name of hotels, theatres, museums/galleries, cinemas, restaurants/pubs, newspapers, ships (+ the names with of):

e.g. the Hilton / the Sheraton / the British Museum / the Tower of London

14. to denote somebody we visit regularly: She has gone to the doctor/dentist.

15. with an adjective used as a noun referring to a group of people:

e.g. the sick / the injured / the rich / the young

16. with an adjective used as a noun describing a nationality:

e.g. the Japanese / the Asians

17. with the names denoting the whole family: e.g. the Simons

18. with the date (in speech): e.g. March the twenty-fifth

19. to denote somebody in an official position: e.g. the Pope / the President / the Queen


The Definite Article is used in some set expressions:


in the morning in the evening out of the question at the latest
in the night in the country to make the bed at the weekend
on the right/left on the one/other hand to do the washing up at the time
on the whole the day before yesterday to keep the house for the most part
the other day to go to the theatre to lay the table the sooner the better
to play the piano to tell the truth under the influence in the end
to pass the time all the same to make the most on the phone
at the moment in the distance to tell the time to tell the time
in the original in the shade on the safe side in the doorway
on the spot in the dark in the sun in the middle of



The Article

We do not use an article before:

  1. the plural form of a countable noun when it is used in a general sense:

e.g. I buy magazines about computers. I like music.

  1. an uncountable noun when it is used in a general sense:

e.g. She hates dishonesty. Many people are afraid of death.

  1. the name of a language: e.g. She speak fluent German.
  2. an adjective, unless the adjective is followed by a noun:

e.g. Her husband is tall. (She is married to a tall man.)

5. an airport or train station: e.g. Gatwick Airport / Charing Cross Station

6. a university: e.g. London University

7. a shop or bank named after people: e.g. Barclays Bank / McDonaldís

8. a church or cathedral: e.g. St. Martinís Church / St. Paulís Cathedral

9. a meal: e.g. have lunch / dinner

10. a disease or illness: e.g. Cancer causes a lot of suffering.

11. a street or road: e.g. Oxford Street / Fifth Avenue

12. a mountain or continent: e.g. Mount Everest; Europe / Asia

13. a country, country, state, etc.: e.g. Holland / Brixton / Texas

14. a lake: Lake Geneva / Lake Ontario

15. a school, college, church, prison when we are not focusing on the particular one:

e.g. He was sent to prison.

16. a hospital, university, etc. when we think of the purpose of the institution, not the building: e.g. He is in hospital.

17. a way of traveling: e.g. go by car / bus / train


The Zero Article is used in some set expressions:


At first/last For nothing Out of rule
At first sight In detail (be) out of breath
At present In case On business
At night/noon/midnight In cash On fire
At peace/war In charge of On foot
At work In common (be) on sale/for sale
By accident In connection with Be in debt
By chance In vain Be on strike
By mistake Keep(be) in touch Be in bed
Fall(be) in love Keep house Be in contact with
From beginning to end Out of doors Put in order
From North to South (go) out of mind Take to heart


Date: 2015-01-11; view: 1799

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Main Cases of the use of the Indefinite Article | USE OF ARTICLES WITH NAMES OF PERSONS
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