“The” is one of the most commonly and frequently used words in the English language. It is a definite article in English Grammar and is used before the specific or the particular person, place, or thing without giving any more details about it or them. In other words, we can say, it is used before a specific or particular noun/noun phrase.
What is the Meaning of “The”?
“The” has no literal meaning in the English language. It is used before nouns/noun phrases only to mark grammatical definiteness.
Example - My table is placed in the center of the office.
In the above sentence, the article “The” has no meaning. It is used before the noun “center” only to show the specific physical position of the table.
Is “The” only definite article in English?
If you study the articles used in different languages of the world, you will find that many languages of the world have no articles at all. Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian have no definite and indefinite articles. They use affixes and clitics to mark grammatical definiteness.
Some languages have only indefinite articles but no definite articles. There are some others that have only definite articles but no indefinite articles. In the Spanish language, there are four definite articles. But in British and American English, there is only one definite article “the” and two indefinite articles – “a and an”.
Definite Article Examples
Now study the sentences given below and see how the article/determiner “The” is used in the following sentences and is showing the nouns that are specific or particular in some way.
- The behavior of the senior students cannot be justified.
- The captain of the ship jumped from the deck to save the life of a drowning child.
- This is the place where I was born.
- There were only ten questions. The first five were relatively easy but the last five were very difficult.
- A bus hit the boundary wall and the driver was killed on the spot.
- The water of this river is very dirty.
- The people of this valley speak Spanish.
- Khajjiar is the mini Switzerland of India
- Richard is one of the best players in his state.
- Mr. X was elected the fifth President of the Ottoman Province.
- The book you want is out of print
- He was the first man to arrive at the counter.
- My college is just in front of the Railway Station.
- I saw two boys. The one was blind and the other was lame.
- The family mourned the death of a newborn child.
- We wait for the postman every day.
- Language is said to be the soul of human being.
- The UAE is a federal absolute monarchy sovereign state in Western Asia.
- NASA claims that the earth is losing 10 inch ice every year due to El Nino effect.
- We have a wedding in the family on April 25.
- Belgium is a small country in Europe.
- Do not tell a lie.
- Churchill may win a scholarship.
Is “The” an Article or a Determiner or an adjective?
Some students are confused and take it as a part of speech. Here I would like to tell you that It is not a part of speech, it is only an article – a definite article and is considered technically an adjective in modern English grammar as it modifies the noun by limiting its use.
In modern English grammar, it is also classified as a determiner. A determiner is a fixing word that precedes a noun /comes before a noun. It helps to identify the noun whether it is specific or unspecific – particular or unparticular.
Example - The girl who won the color prize is my cousin.
In the above sentence, the word “Girl” is a noun and the article “the” comes before it. “The” is an article or you can say a determiner. It identifies the noun “girl” and tells us that the girl is specific. The girl means – this girl only, nobody else. Similarly, “color prize” is a noun phrase, and “the” comes before it. Here the article “the” determines the noun “color prize” and makes it specific or particular.
Uses of “The” in Old and Modern English
“The” has developed from the old English. Old English had a definite article in each gender i.e. “se” in the masculine gender, “sēo” in the feminine gender, and “þæt” in the neuter gender.
As time passed, these definite articles of three different genders merged into only one word “þe”. Now in modern English, the article “þe” is used as the article “The”. It can be used with any gender.
It also can be used with singular and plural nouns and with a noun that starts with any letter. So these are the developments in the progress of our definite article from the old English to the Modern English.
Definite Article Exercises
Q1. Fill in the blanks with appropriate articles:
Yesterday _____1______ metro bus ran over school boy. _____2______ boy was seriously injured and was rushed to _____3______ hospital. _____4______ passengers caught hold of _____5______ driver and handed him to police.
Q2. Fill in the blanks with appropriate articles:
There was _____1______ great rush at _____2______ counter yesterday. I wanted to get ______3_____ ticket for movie. It was ______4_____ first day of its release. _____5______ manager suddenly appeared on _____6______ scene and announced that _____7______ show had been cancelled for reasons beyond control.
Q3. Fill in the blanks with appropriate articles:
_____1______ American had been fishing for two weeks in London without getting ______2_____ bite. On ______3_____ last day of his vacation, he caught _____4______ small fish. “John,” he said to his guide later, “That fish cost me more than 500 dollars.
Q4. Fill in the blanks with appropriate articles:
Vicky is my neighbor. He is _____1______ daily wage laborer in _____2______ nearby grocery store. He goes to store at 7:30 in _____3______ morning and works till 5:30 pm in _____4______ evening. He is not paid for days he does not work.
Q5. Fill in the blanks with appropriate articles:
Arteries are vessels that carry blood away from ______1_____ heart to various organs of _____2______ body. Since _____3______ blood emerges from heart under high pressure, _____4______ arteries have thick elastic walls.