Advanced English Grammar



Definite Article

The definite article is relatively easy to learn. Sometimes we tend to make things harder or more complicated than they need to be, but this shouldn't be the case with the definite English article 'the.'

It seems that those learning the English language sometimes face difficulties when translating from their mother tongue.

Many languages use the article before certain nouns, whereas in English we don't always use the article.

Remembering the following should help clear up any difficulties.

Definite Article: 'THE' basics

'The' is used before singular and plural nouns. The nouns are specifically related to a member of a group. 'The' may also be used with count or non count nouns.

Ex: The child is playing in the back yard.

Ex: The children are in the street.

Ex: The information you gave me is wrong.

Since languages are 'living' there are occasions when certain usages do, or can, cause problems. Most problems with the definitive article are caused by not knowing when to NOT use, or omit, it.

Some problems or difficulties encountered when using the definite article...


In some cases the article is used and in others it is not (without any specific rule or reason) other than, perhaps, user preference. Tendencies tend to reflect differences between place and institution.

Ex: When I was at University (institution) = 'the' omitted

Ex: The match is at the University (location) = 'the' used

Likewise, there tends to be a couple of differences between American English and British English regarding the use of the definite article.
Ex: British speakers may "go to hospital." (both location and institution)

Ex: American speakers "go to the hospital." (both location and institution)

For more information regarding the definite article click on the preceding link.