Use of the Definite Article

Definite article is ‘the’ which is used before Nouns (Singular/Plural) to denote them as specific or particular member of the group.


The boy who hit me is standing over there. (The particular boy)

I was happy to see the doctor who saved my son. (The particular doctor)

Meet me at the front of the Gateway of India. (Only 1 Gateway of India)

1. Whereas ‘a’ / ‘an’ can be used only with countable Nouns, ‘the can be used with both countable and uncountable Nouns.

E.g.:       I love to watch the sea. (Uncountable noun)

I love to pick the apples. (Countable Noun)

2. Whereas ‘a’ or ‘an’ is only used before Singular Nouns, ‘the’ is used before both Singular and Plural Nouns.

e.g.        I am going to buy the pen that I liked.

I am going to buy the pens that I liked.

3. ‘The’ is used for both the genders.

e.g. :      The boy, the girl .



a. Fore mostly used for a specific Noun pre-mentioned in the sentence.

e.g.: Please switch off the fan.

I like the dress you are wearing.

b. Used to indicate a unique Noun.

e.g.: The river Ganges flows right beneath this bridge.

c. Used to denote a natural phenomenon.

e.g.: The storm lashed across the countryside.

d. Used to refer to a distinct time period.

e.g.: The 60’s were known as the swinging 60’s.

I was considered very handsome in the past.

e. Used to indicate all members, carrying the same surname.

e.g.: The petroleum sector was dominated by the Ambanis.

I watched the Simpsons show numerous times


When used with geographical Nouns the following conditions come into force:

1.  ‘The ‘ is not used before the names of most Continents, Countries, Cities, Street, lakes and bays, islands, mountain peaks.

Exceptions being:

Countries:  The United States of America, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, the Netherland, the Middle East.

Lakes: The Great Lakes

Island chains: The Canary Island, the British Island, the Bahamas.


2.  ‘The is used before the following geographical Nouns:

a. Mountain Ranges: The Himalayas, the Rockies, theAndes.

b. River, Ocean and Sea: The Ganges, the Pacific Ocean, the Arabian Sea.

c. Points of the Globe: The Equator, the Tropic of Cancer/ Capricorn, the North/ South Pole.

d.  Geographical Expanse: The East, the West, the North, the South.

e. Deserts, Forests, Gulfs, Peninsula: The Sahara, the Amazon basin, the Gulf of Mexico, the Deccan Peninsula.


3.  ‘The’ is also not used before the names of Subjects :

e.g.: English, Physics, and Chemistry etc.

4. ‘The’ is not used before names of Languages unless one considers their nationality, referring to them as population of a region.  .

e.g.: English,Chinese.

Have you taken English at Graduation level? (Not the English)

5.   Definite article ‘the’ may be used with specific Months, Days of the week and seasons.


a.  I always remember the Saturday my son was born.

b.  The December of 2001 shall be etched deep in my mind for as long as I live.

c. The fall of 1993 had a special feel.

English Grammar and Composition

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