Students sometimes get confused about when to use a/an or the. This post is about when to use “the”. For more infomration about when to use ‘a’ and ‘an’, please refer to the post ‘Articles (a/an)’.
‘the’ can be used with singular and plural nouns and is generally used to specify things (that is, talk about things we know, things that are definite).
There are some basic rules for when to use ‘the’:
Rule 1: Use ‘the’ with plural nouns
For example: The dogs are barking loudly. Take the chairs from the student common room.
Rule 2: Use ‘the’ to describe things that are definite/ to describe the things we know about.
For example: I’ve just been to the bank (the bank refers to my usual bank where I have my accounts). I need to talk to the teacher (my teacher that I usually have)
Rule 3: Use ‘the’ to talk about something unique, where there is only one of something.
For example: The moon is pretty tonight. The sun is very bright today. The Himalyas are the tallest mountains in the world.
Rule 4: Use ‘the’ to talk about man made inventions. The noun has to be singular.
For example: The security camera has become a common part of our society. The airplane is one of the greatest inventions of out time.
Rule 5: Use ‘the’ to describe kingdoms or republics
For example: I want to live in the United Kingdom (UK). Some people don’t like the USA but I love it.
Rule 6: Use ‘the’ before superlative adjectives
For example: My mother is the best! That was the worst IELTS score I have received yet.