The definite article, definition, uses and examples

What is the definite article in English?

The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. The signals that the noun is definite, that it refers to a particular member of a group. For example: “The dog that bit me ran away.” Here, we’re talking about a specific dog, the dog that bit me

Rules of using the definite article in English

Definite article, the, is used to refer to a particular member of a group or class. It may be something that the speaker has already mentioned or it may be something uniquely specified. ‘The’ is the only definite article in English, for both singular and plural nouns.

When you talk of indefinite article  you are not talking of anything specific but in general terms. Indefinite article is also used to introduce common nouns into the conversation.

Already been mentioned

The definite article is used to refer to a noun that has already been mentioned earlier in the conversation or is already known to the listener. For example: You don’t say – The apple at the start, but you say an apple. This is an apple. However, if you want to mention something more about the apple then you will say, the apple. The apple is red. Also, we say the Taj Mahal. This is a monument that is assumed to be widely known. Similarly, the sun. For nouns such as the Taj Mahal and the sun, one need not introduce the in the conversation as a Taj Mahal or a sun since it is assumed the listener knows about these things.

We use the definite article in front of a noun when we believe the listener/reader knows exactly what we are referring to:

Also not used in front of proper noun.

Uses of the the definite article

Used before nouns or adjective. Used for the whole group. 

Rich people don’t know how poor people live
Rich people don’t know how the poor live
Rich people are insensitive to the poor people’s problems
The rich are insensitive to the poor people’s problems

The cheetah is found in Africa
Cheetahs are found in Africa

The definite article examples

The Pope is visiting Russia. 

The bus is at the bus stop.

The moon is very bright tonight.

Who is the president of France?

Use the definite article with a superlative adjective:

He is the tallest boy in the class.

It is the oldest building in the town.

More definite article examples

Today I am taking the bus.

May I borrow the car

To say something about all the things referred to by a noun:

The wolf is not really a dangerous animal. (= Wolves are not really dangerous animals.)

The kangaroo is found only in Australia. (= Kangaroos are found only in Australia.)

The heart pumps blood around the body. (= Hearts pump blood around bodies.)

How to introduce yourself in the English language. How to introduce yourself in English.

We use the definite article in this way to talk about musical instruments:

Joe plays the piano really well.

She is learning the guitar.

to refer to a system or service:

How long does it take on the train?

I heard it on the radio.

You should tell the police.

Single but one and only

The sun

The moon

The stars?

The Taj Mahal

The Eiffel tower

The Big Ben

The only ,,,

The Himalayas

The Alps

The artic

The Indian Ocean

The Ganges

The United States

The Times of India

Mention some characteristic

The boy who limps

The car which you jumped over

The elephant we saw in the market yesterday

The secrets of healthy weight management

When not to use

Proper nouns – name, Mondays Tuesdays, 

Is Monday a time concept?

Judgement day

Uncountable nouns

Language – unless you use the word language. Do you know the language? Do you understand English? Do you understand the English Language. It is a language barrier.

Job unless you use the word job. Do you have a job. I have a job. Have you finished the job?

A story: The story I most like to hear. Have you heard the story. May I tell you a story.

A sport: The sport. I play a sport. I play the sport.

Go to the farm. Go to a farm.

Prison, jail, school,