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    Learn Courses Basic level The articles The definite article

The Articles - Lesson 2.1

The Definite Article

(El artículo determinado)

The definite article in English is "the". We use "the" when we are talking about a specific thing or it is known by the speaker.

Articles define nouns and are always located before the noun that they define. In English, as opposed to Latin languages, the articles are not gendered, nor are there plural forms.


 the boy
 the boys
 the book
 the books
 the girl
 the girls
 the table
 the tables

The” can be proceeded by the prepositions “of” or “to”, but in English there does not exist a contraction of the article with these prepositions, as in some other languages.


 The days of the week…
 I am going to the garden.

Uses Of The Definite Article

1. We use “the” when we know who or what it is we are talking about. We use “the” to indicate something or someone in particular, as such it is called the definite article. We speak of something concrete, something that both the speaker and the receiver know of because it has been referenced earlier in the conversation or because it is something previously known to both.


 What is the name of the restaurant?
 Do you remember the day we went to New York?
 Who is the president of the United States?
 The doctor is very good.

2. We use the definite article with geological regions, mountain chains, seas, oceans, island groups, rivers and countries in plural.


 the United States
 the Netherlands
 the Andes
 the Atlantic Ocean
 the Canary Islands
 the Nile River

3. We use “the” to make reference to directions (right, left, top, bottom) or the cardinal points (north, south, east, west).


 the south of France
 the house on the left
 the top of the page

4. With superlative adjectives and ordinal numbers we also use the definite article.


 the tallest building
 the strongest man
 the first time
 the second floor

When Not To Use The Definite Article

1. We do not use the definite article when we are speaking of something in general.


 I like ice cream.
 Math is difficult.

2. We never use “the” when we are referring to television, meals, days of the week, months of the year, seasons, years or the hour.


 I do not like to watch television [TV].
 I have an appointment on Monday.
 We eat breakfast at 9:00.

3. With institutions and modes of transportation, when we are speaking in general, we do not use the definite article.


 We like school.
 I go to work by train.
 They go to church on Sundays.

4. “The” is not used with city names or places in general, although there are some exceptions as we saw in the previous section. In addition, we do not use the definite article with lakes or streets.


 I went to Lake Titicaca.
 She lives on Flores Street.
Next lesson The Indefinite Article
The Definite Article Listen to Lesson