Definite Article for intermediate learners

The definite article in English language is 'the'. It is used before a noun to show that the noun is known to the reader. Learn about this useful article!

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"Definite Article" in English Grammar

What Is the Definite Article?

A definite article is a type of determiner in English that is used to refer to a specific or previously mentioned noun. The definite article in English is 'the'.

Definite Article: Placement

The definite article 'the' is used before nouns to indicate that they are known to the speaker and listener and it is usually used when the same noun is mentioned for the second time. Here are some examples:

I bought a car yesterday. The car was really expensive.

He had a small cat. The cat got lost in the street.

Definite Article: Uses

Here are the most common contexts in which you can use definite article 'the':

  • With some proper nouns
  • To refer to family names
  • To refer to a whole group
  • To make a common noun known

Definite Article with Proper Nouns

Before the name of some oceans, mountains, newspapers, buildings, and countries we are allowed to use the definite article. Here are the examples:

He went through the Atlantic Ocean.

He always wanted to live in the United States.

To Refer to Family Names

The definite article can be used to refer to a family's house or place, or to the family as a whole. Here are the examples:

We want to go to the Joneses'.

Here, 'the Joneses' ' refers to the house of Jones family

I called the Smiths and invited them.

In this example, 'the Smiths' refers to the family as a whole.

To Refer to a Whole Group

When we want to talk about a whole group and members of the group at the same time, we can use the definite article before them. Here are the examples:

The team worked very hard to get the prize.

The judges decided about the case.

To Make a Common Noun Known

The definite article is also used when a common noun is mentioned for the second time, or when there is a background or description of the noun that is known to the listener. For example:

The man standing over there is my father.

I saw him. The teacher looked older.

Review

The definite article in English is:

  • The

We use definite article:

  • To use some proper nouns
  • To refer to family names
  • To refer to a whole group
  • To make a common noun known

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