I was surfing the Internet when I saw this sentence:

From there, you can see the beautiful scene where the sunset's reflecting over the ocean.

As far as I've known, "the" is used when you already have something written above, and you're referring it; or when you want to describe "only" things (e.g. the Moon, the Sun).

Is it correct to write the sentence like so? If not, will replacing the "the" in "the beautiful scene" with "a" fix the sentence?

Thanks for your answers!

  • 2
    Well, I suppose you could argue that 'the view from my window' (or wherever 'there' is) is something unique. It certainly doesn't seem jarringly wrong to me. Jan 5, 2021 at 9:17
  • 3
    Does this answer your question? Why not "on a street"?. It's the quasi-referential usage: "Picture the scene: you're on a tropical beach, holding a vodka and lime, the palm trees waving gently in the breeze ...." Jan 5, 2021 at 16:47

2 Answers 2


"The" doesn't necessarily refer to something previously identified. Rather, it implies something that is (at least relatively) unique.

  • 1
    Additionally, in this (and similar) case, by using the definite article the, you're calling specific attention to "beautiful scene". It's not merely "a" beautiful scene. It's "THE" scene! See also Seth Godin's 2009 post The best middle name ever.
    – warren
    Jan 5, 2021 at 14:41

Yes, the sentence needs to use a in place of the to be correct. It is incorrect because there is no prior reference (to establish which beautiful scene), and the beautiful scene is a general concept, not a specific or definite thing. A/an is an indefinite article; the is a definite article.

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