Questions tagged [definite-articles]

This tag is for questions about the definite article.

69
votes
8answers
82k views

Is there a reason the British omit the article when they “go to hospital”?

Why do British speakers omit the article in constructions like "go to hospital" or "go on holiday"? Pretty much all American speakers would rephrase those as "go to the hospital" and "go on a holiday",...
60
votes
7answers
30k views

Are there any simple rules for choosing the definite vs. indefinite (vs. none) article?

I can’t for the life of me figure out where to use a and where to use the — and where there is no article at all. Is there a simple rule of thumb to memorize? The standard rule you always hear: “...
39
votes
6answers
73k views

Why is it “on *the* one hand”?

According to all dictionaries I can see and everyday use by native speakers, this is the correct way: On the one hand, it's larger; on the other hand, it's more expensive. What makes no sense to ...
32
votes
6answers
8k views

What is the difference between Ukraine and the Ukraine?

Time magazine (March 5th) carries the article titled, “Ukraine, not the Ukraine: The significance of three little letters,” in which the following comment of William Taylor, who served as the U.S. ...
31
votes
10answers
88k views

About definite article before “Earth”, “Moon” and “Sun”

In what cases do we have to put the definite article the before each of these words: Sun Moon Earth and in what cases do we not need to?
26
votes
5answers
34k views

Using the definite article before a country/state name

The Punjab is a rich state. Is it correct to use the before Punjab?
26
votes
2answers
19k views

Is it necessary to use “the” multiple times?

It seems that the question has eventually become a series of questions.... An example goes as: The 1st and (the) 2nd paragraphs of the article are extremely long. Another example: What are the ...
21
votes
8answers
18k views

Omission of definite article with musical instruments

What is the rule for omitting/including the definite article in the following sentences: I used to play piano. I used to play the piano. I would pick the first sentence, but I've heard people ...
21
votes
1answer
42k views

Using the definite article with acronyms and initialisms

I'm wondering when to use or not to use the definite article, when using acronyms or initialisms in a sentence. Is there a rule for this, or does it depend on the context? For example, let's look at ...
20
votes
5answers
12k views

Why does the Sudan have a “the” in the name?

I am endlessly perplexed why the country Sudan has a the in the name: "I am from the Sudan". Why not "I am from the Kansas" or "the China"? I understand the the in "the United States" because a non-...
20
votes
6answers
66k views

Why use “the” for oceans/seas/rivers etc. but not lakes?

Possibly two questions in here: Are these sentence constructions logical, and if they are, why are they different? I swam across the Ocmulgee River. I swam across the Pacific Ocean. I swam ...
20
votes
5answers
30k views

Definite article — “on television” vs. “on the radio”

Why are these different? We heard the news on the radio. We watched the news on television. In this book, the author says we must use television without the. Why? It makes me crazy. Is ...
17
votes
5answers
9k views

Use of definite article before phrases like Heathrow Airport, Hyde Park, Waterloo Station, Edgware Road and Parliament Square

In this related question (Definite article with proper nouns, titles followed by a common noun), the OP asks if it is grammatical to use the definite article before phrases like Advanced programming ...
16
votes
2answers
5k views

Usage of English definite article when referring to generic word

My mother language does not have articles, so I still struggle to choose when to use the indefinte and definite article. The other day, I learned: "The dog is an animal" is acceptable. "The iron is a ...
14
votes
6answers
60k views

Definite article before schools, colleges, and universities

Is the always used before the name of a school, college, or university?
14
votes
1answer
21k views

Is pronouncing “The” as in “Thee” still correct in titles?

When saying the title of JRR Tolkien's masterpiece, which is the correct pronunciation (Yes, I know that they're spelled wrong, but I'm trying to emphasize the pronunciation): Thuh Lord of thuh Rings ...
14
votes
4answers
6k views

“watching the television” or “watching television”? [duplicate]

"He was watching the television when I called on him." When I said this sentence to one of my friends (an English teacher) he corrected me saying that the definite article (the) should be omitted. ...
13
votes
2answers
11k views

Capitalising the definite article in names

When I was a youngster some mumble-mumble-mumble decades ago, I was taught that, in the instances of names of persons, places, and things which carried the definite article the, the article wasn’t ...
13
votes
2answers
7k views

“The X and (the) Y”: When should I repeat the definite article?

I am a bit confused about the rule of setting the definite article in a sentence when it is associated to two nouns. The beginning and end of the channel. The beginning and the end of the ...
12
votes
2answers
51k views

“During summer” vs. “during the summer”

What is the difference between saying "during summer" and "during the summer"? As in: I work during the summer. I work during summer. Are both common? Is my feeling correct that the first ...
12
votes
3answers
26k views

Using “the” before ordinal numbers

When learning English I was told that ordinal numbers should always be used with "the" before them. But I often see that this is not always so strict, for example I heard the phrase "April first" ...
12
votes
5answers
78k views

Why there is “the” before some names but not others [closed]

Is there a rule beyond the common "no the with proper nouns and names" for the following problem? I saw the Empire State Building. We went to the White House. We saw the Golden Gate ...
12
votes
1answer
4k views

Definite article with proper nouns, titles followed by a common noun

Over time I developed this rule where if a title or a proper name is followed by a common noun that represents the class of the entity I am referring to, then I use the definite article. In Example 1, ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Are there specific rules to build expressions with or without articles?

In English, there are lots of expressions built using articles like: at the station to the cinema play the piano have breakfast (no article) take a bath take a shower Are there specific rules or ...
11
votes
4answers
51k views

“Time is of the essence”… of what?

I'm having a hard time understanding the purpose or meaning of the definite article, the in the common phrase, Time is of the essence. My first thought is that it refers to the task that is time-...
11
votes
5answers
10k views

Why is “the” dropped in “I go to school by bus”?

Why is the dropped in "I go to school by bus"? Why isn't it "I go to the school by the bus" if both school and bus are countable? Does the rule that a countable noun must have an article have an ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

“the average person” vs “an average person”

There's a question in a forum I frequent, and I'm trying to decide whether "the average" or "an average" is appropriate in its title. Let's say the question is: "Why is the average Canadian more ...
11
votes
1answer
497 views

How does the pronunciation of 'the' vary in British English?

In the months leading up to the UK Referendum, I've heard the phrase "the E.U." thousands of times, and I've noticed that nearly all media-speakers pronounce it as /ðəʔiːjuː/. My memory, and my old ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

How to prevent a sentence beginning with the word “The”? [closed]

I am writing a technical thesis and find myself using the word the an awful lot. Here are some examples (I spare the technical gibberish): The main purpose of the presented applications is to ...
10
votes
3answers
19k views

a cold vs flu / the flu

Have you got a cold? Have you got flu? Have you got the flu? Why can't we say a flu or the cold in the previous examples?
9
votes
4answers
16k views

“Planning for next year” vs. “planning for the next year”

I would like to start planning for next year. In the above sentence, there is no definite article before the words next year. Should it be present, as in the following sentence which sounds far less ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do I want to say “the iPhone” instead of just “iPhone”?

Apple is somewhat notorious for omitting articles when talking about their products, and statements such as "People love iPhone" hit my ear a little strangely. But when I stopped to think about it, I ...
9
votes
3answers
61k views

“talk over the phone” or “talk over phone”

We just talked over (the) phone. Should there be a "the" in front of "phone"? I.e., should "phone" be specific or not? If there should be a "the", should "phone" be "phones" instead,since there were ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

The use of the definite article “The”

The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.            — Chapter 1 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Dark Lord According to this web site, English ...
8
votes
1answer
811 views

“This essay was translated from the Chinese” — what does this “the” do?

Chen Guangcheng is a special student at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at the New York University School of Law. This essay was translated from the Chinese. Why don't they write: "This essay was ...
8
votes
1answer
5k views

“All X” vs. “all of X” vs. “all the X”

Is there any difference between "all X", "all of the X", "all the X"? E.g., all friends all of the friends all the friends
8
votes
3answers
12k views

Dropping the second “the” in sentences: the X and the Y vs. the X and Y

Is there any difference between these two examples? 1. (Both) the Senate and the House of Representatives are legislative bodies. 2. (Both) the Senate and House of Representatives are ...
8
votes
8answers
5k views

Superlative and definite article “the”

I have seen similar questions like this here on ELU. However, I am still confused with my particular question. (a) She gets up latest in her family. (b) She gets up the latest in her family. Can ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Is it “Greetings from The sunny Hague” or “Greetings from sunny The Hague”?

If I were writing a postcard home from a sunny city, I would normally put the adjective just before the proper noun like "sunny Berlin". What should I do when it's The Hague?
7
votes
2answers
22k views

Use of 'the’ in front of acronyms

I tend to not use the word ‘the’ in front of acronyms, but I see this used in documents more and more. REIP provides regional outreach services to Northeastern Ontario. or The REIP provides ...
7
votes
1answer
4k views

“The” before superlative [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Do I need to put “the” before “most” in this sentence? I've always thought you need the definite article 'the' before the superlative of an adjective, except when the ...
7
votes
1answer
13k views

Do I need “the” before the name of my university? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Definite article before proper nouns I was updating my LinkedIn tagline and thinking about whether I should put the article before the name of the university. Student at ...
7
votes
1answer
892 views

Use of definite article referring to figures and tables

There are tables and figures in a document, uniquely identifiable by their numbers. We want to refer to them in several places. Which one is preferable in academic English writing and why? In ...
7
votes
4answers
12k views

Usage of “a” and “the” in titles [closed]

Which one should I use for page title? Apple — Tasty Fruit Apple — A Tasty Fruit Apple — The Tasty Fruit The article is only about tasty apple.
7
votes
3answers
6k views

Adjective with proper noun

Rephrasing the entire question: Do we use the article "the" when we use an adjective with a proper noun? Which of these is correct, and why? The terrible Mr. Brown set my boat on fire. ...
7
votes
2answers
27k views

Is it proper to use “the” before the name of a government organization? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Definite article with proper nouns, titles followed by a common noun Using the definite article with acronyms and initialisms When I listen to major news programs, often I ...
7
votes
2answers
11k views

Can I start a sentence with a singular noun with no article?

For example, which one of the following sentences can I use? Consumer of Product X needs to fill out a rebate form […]. Consumers of Product X need to […]. A consumer of Product X needs to […]. ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

Definite article before “cinema”?

I'd like to speak about cinema as an invention. Do we say The cinema was invented in 1895. or Cinema was invented in 1895.
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Definite or indefinite article in “the/a devil's advocate”

I can't quite figure out which of the following expressions is more correct: He is the devil's advocate. He is a devil's advocate. He is playing devil's advocate. The combination of an article with ...
6
votes
7answers
22k views

City names with articles [closed]

Typically we don't use articles with city names, e.g. "Seattle" and not "the Seattle." I know at least one exception though which is The Hague. Are there any other city names which we use with the ...