In Grammar By Victoria

The definite article in English

In contrast to the indefinite, the definite article in English (the definite article) is only one form of writing the — but the two pronunciations: [ðƏ] and [ði]. We say definite article in English in the first embodiment, if the word begins with the consonant sound and the like in the second embodiment, if the initial vowel sound in the word (either silent letter h). For example: the table, the book, the hunter, the union (j — consonant), but the arm, the egg, the old man, the umbrella, the hour.

The definite article in the English language owes its origin to the demonstrative pronoun that (one). This article is always refers to the subject’s face, the phenomenon as something definite. In other words, by this Part we select from all of the above persons and objects of this class. Equivalents are definite article possessive pronouns (possessive pronouns — my, your, his, her, its, our, their) and demonstrative pronouns (demonstrative pronouns — this, that, these, those). As we know, in the Russian language such thing as an «article» does not exist. The value of certainty in their own language, we pass by a listed English pronouns or the word order in the English sentence. Consequently, the translation into Russian of the noun with the definite article will be a combination of a noun with a demonstrative pronoun — this, that. For example:

I recognized the man. — I found this man.

This is the magazine we were looking for. — This is the magazine that we were looking for.

The definite article in English is used as a countable nouns in singular and plural and with uncountable nouns. Now we will focus on the major cases, the use of the definite article, any unspecified moments you can find in other articles on this determiners.

The use of the definite article in English

Below are the cases in which it is necessary to put the definite article:

  1. Article the situation calls for it (something you can visualize) or context, which shows that we are talking about a particular subject, event or face.
  2. Can you turn on the light, please? — You can turn on the light? (namely light in the room)

    The party will begin in a hour. — The party starts in an hour. (The party today)

  3. If an object or person has already been mentioned earlier in the text, and now called the second time by the same or another noun, always put the definite article in English.
  4. There was an accident. A car crashed into a wall. The car was quite badly damaged. — There was an accident. The car crashed into a wall. The car was badly damaged.

    There is a sports centre in the city. The centre is open from 10 till 21. — The town has a sports center. It is open from 10 to 21.

  5. We put the definite article, if there is a noun to clarify (limiting) a definition that can be expressed:
    • subordinate clause:

      This is the suit John bought in Paris. — It is a suit that John bought in Paris.

    • prepositional phrase:

      Young people like to walk in the centre of Moscow. — Youth likes to walk in the center of Moscow.

    • words like all, whole, very, right, left, wrong, only, main, last, next, same, previous:

      The whole group passed the exam successfully. — The whole group has successfully passed the exam.

      If you take the left turn you’ll get to the right place. — If you will turn to the left, you will get where you want.

      We have the same interests though we are different. — We have the same interests, even though we are different.

    • ordinal number:

      Who was the first teacher you had at school? — Who was your first teacher in school?

    • superlatives:

      This is the best compliment I have ever got. — That’s the best compliment I’ve ever received.

  6. Circumstances of place usually accompanies the definite article in English:
  7. It was warm and sunny, so we decided to sit in the garden. — Outside it was warm and sunny, so we decided to sit in the garden.

    She has books everywhere: on the table, on the floor, in the kitchen and even in the bathroom. — Her books everywhere: on the table, on the floor in the kitchen and even in the bathroom.

    Please note that the number of nouns in the possessive case indicates the fact the place (house, shop, hospital, etc.) and always used with the definite article in English: at the doctor’s, at the dentist’s, at the vet’s, at the butcher’s, at the chemist’s, at the cleaner’s, etc.

  8. Before the names of grammatical categories also used the definite article:

    Some verbs are never used in the Passive Voice. — Some verbs are never used in the passive voice.

Do not forget that in these cases there are exceptions to the above, when instead of the definite article indefinite use or zero. Each situation should be considered separately, and pay particular attention to the category of a noun.

This topic is closely related to the other as described in the articles that need to pay attention:

  • «Zero article in the English language»
  • «The indefinite article in the English language»
  • «The location of the article in English»
  • «Articles of nouns as a function of the application»

After reading them, we recommend to pass the following test: «Test # 1 on the use of articles in the English language.»



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