According to Murphy’s grammar, the definite article is used when specific things are meant, for example: “We took the children to the zoo. (a specific group, perhaps the speaker’s children) “ What puzzles me is the use of the definite article in book titles like: “Stories Of Siegfried, Told To The Children”, “Stories From The Ballads, Told To The Children”, ”Stories of King Arthur's Knights, Told to the Children by Mary MacGregor”, et c. How can I possibly understand whose children the author means – her own, or perhaps those of King Arthur? Would the meaning of these book titles change if the definite article were absent?

  • 1
    Maybe you need to buy the book to find out. :)
    – Lawrence
    Mar 24, 2018 at 14:56
  • 1
    I have read (or rather listened to) the last book on the list, it was great, but it did not clarify the meaning of the definite article in its title to me :(
    – Zak
    Mar 24, 2018 at 15:09
  • 1
    In addition to Edwin's comment, with which I wholly agree, we might expect to see, say, "Brobdignagian Fairy Tales, as told to The Children of that Land" and thus "Stories of King Arthur's Knights, told to the Children of England" but those are rather more specific and prolly serve better to help by ommission… Apr 7, 2018 at 19:34
  • "Would the meaning of these book titles change if the definite article were absent? " No. "Told to Children" is more modern though. The series seems to have been written with 'children' as the audience (obviously). The emphasis of 'the Children' was to direct the adults buying them to understand that audience restriction. Apr 19, 2018 at 11:27

1 Answer 1


Told to the children seems to be a series.

Check this: Heritage History - Told to the Children.

The children in bold in the given excerpt may very well be the children we are looking for.

The Told to the Children Series is an excellent series that was produced by E.C. and T.C. Jack in Great Britain during early 1900's. The object of this series was to take well known classics from both the western canon and 19th century English literature, and retell the stories in a simple manner for children age 9-12. The books themselves are very small, well written, and beautifully illustrated. An upper elementary age child might be able to read an entire book in less than two hours, and even younger children can get through a book in a few sittings. A great deal of the complexity of the original is left out, but in most cases the author focuses on telling a few stories well rather than trying to cover every aspect of the original at a superficial level. The series involves over 30 books by a number of authors but we have not attempted to republish the whole series. The books we have published represent most of the best of the series, and focus mainly on legendary classics rather than those by 19th century British authors.

  • @AndyT That is reasonable. I edited the answer. Thank you for pointing it out.
    – Mixal
    Apr 19, 2018 at 10:47
  • Good work on the research. There's still the question of why the children, though.
    – AndyT
    Apr 19, 2018 at 10:59
  • This beats me. I can only speculate: Maybe they wanted 'the' to emphasize how specifically it was intended for children. 'For the children back home, not for you'
    – Mixal
    Apr 19, 2018 at 12:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.