The Definite Article: The

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    nuhru_1098
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    Post The Definite Article: The

    Post by nuhru_1098 on Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:05 pm

    the The Definite Article

    The definite article the is used in front of any noun the listener or reader already knows about. I have two cars: a Ford and an Audi.
    The Ford is white and the Audi is silver.

    The is also used when the existence of something is common knowledge or comes as no surprise because of the context in which it is mentioned.
    Last week a fighter plane crashed into a field but the pilot managed to eject safely.
    Yesterday I spent the afternoon at home. I put my clothes into the washing machine and went outside to sit in the garden.

    The definite article is used in front of things generally regarded as unique. The sun, the moon, the sea, the sky, the Arctic Circle, the environment, the capital, the air, the ground, etc.

    Because nouns preceded by superlative adjectives and ordinal numbers are by their very nature unique, they too require the definite article.

    Irregularity: Spoken American English drops the in dates.
    It was the worst day of my life!
    The captain was the first person to leave the burning tanker.
    AmE June twenty-first.
    BrE June the twenty-first.
    The twenty-first (day) of June.

    The definite article is used in front of countable nouns representing a whole class or category of something. The computer has changed our lives.
    It is left up to the consumer to decide which one to buy.
    We all have a responsibility to look after the old and infirm.
    The whale is the largest mammal.

    The is used in front of oceans, seas, rivers, island and mountain chains, deserts, countries with plural names, and noun forms of points of the compass.
    The Pacific, the Mediterranean, the Amazon,
    the West Indies, the Rockies, the Sahara,
    the Netherlands, the Far East, etc.

    The is used in place names and titles including of.

    In the case of official job titles, the is usually dropped if there is only one such incumbent at any given time.
    It is unlikely the Queen of Denmark has ever swum in the Bay of Bengal.
    Margrethe II is (the) Queen of Denmark.
    Donald was elected chairman of the board.

    The is also used in proper names consisting of noun(s) and/or adjective(s) + noun. The Empire State Building, the English Channel, the White House, the Festival Hall, the Rolling Stones, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the British Museum, etc.

    The is used in hotel names. The Hilton Hotel, the Savoy, the Sheraton

    The is used for newspapers. The Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Daily Mail

    The is used for many larger organizations and institutions (not commercial enterprises), including those with initials that are normally spelled out.

    Acronyms (initials read as whole words) are treated in the same way as regular names (proper nouns) and so do not require any article. If you are uncertain, please monitor usage in the media or consult a dictionary.
    The Commonwealth, the Fed, the EU, the WHO, the BBC, the FDA, the IAEA, etc.
    Compare:

    OPEC, NATO, ICANN, etc.

    The is used for currencies. The U.S. dollar has risen against the yen but fallen against the euro.

    In front of people's names, however, the is only used to avoid confusion. I'm the David Appleyard that lives in Japan.

    The is used with the names of musical instruments. Richard Clayderman plays the piano.

    The can be used instead of a possessive form when referring to parts of the body and items of clothing.
    She was hit on the head by a snowball
    (= a snowball hit her head).
    Joe grabbed the youth by the collar
    (= Joe grabbed the youth's collar).

    Many forms of entertainment are preceded by the definite article the, but not the medium of television.
    I go to the cinema/movies, the theatre, the circus, the ballet and the opera.
    In the daytime I listen to the radio, but in the evenings I like to watch television.

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