When to use the Definite Article

<<Previous By: Richard Blazek, last updated: Friday, May 27, 2005 Next>>

SOMETHING THAT WAS MENTIONED BEFORE

  • Jill: I've brought some books
  • Rick: Put the books over there

WHEN THERE IS ONLY ONE OF SOMETHING

  • The sun is hot today
  • The Queen is coming

SOMETHING THAT BOTH SPEAKER AND LISTENER KNOW ABOUT

  • The book you told me about was really interesting

WITH SUPERLATIVES

  • I am the greatest

REFERRING TO GROUPS OF PEOPLE

  • One law for the rich and another for the poor
  • The English can be noisy at football matches

NAMES OF OCEANS, SEAS, RIVERS, MOUNTAIN RANGES (not mountains)

  • the Atlantic [ocean] separates America from Europe
  • the Mediterranean [sea] is in the heart of Europe
  • the Thames flows through London
  • I'm going skiing in the Alps

NAMES OF SOME COUNTRIES AND GROUPS OF ISLANDS

  • the United States and the United Kingdom use the definite article
  • the Canaries are a part of Spain