The Definite Article (the)

This page will teach you when and how to use the definite article (the).

We use the definite article…


1- When talking about inventions or species of animal

The panda is an endangered species.

The Lightbulb was invented by Thomas Edison.


2- With national groups, religious communities, or groups of particular beliefs

The British are usually very polite.

The Muslims where enraged by the senator’s comments.


3- With previously mentioned nouns

I’ve got three dresses, a red one, a blue one, and a black one. I think I’ll wear the red one to the party.


4- When we know which one we are talking about

We decided to buy the house we told you we were looking at last week.


5- When there is only one

The Internet has made the world a much smaller place.


6- With superlatives

New York is the biggest city in North America.

7- With the names of states, kingdoms, and republics

The United Arab Emirates is a very rich country.


8- With the names of oceans, seas, rivers, and deserts

The River Thames runs through London.


*Note: We do not use the definite article with the names of lakes.

They went to their cottage at Lake Superior for the long weekend.


9- With the names of mountain ranges (groups of mountains)

The Alps are popular with skiers.

*Note: We do not use the definite article with the names of single mountains.

We went trekking up Mount Giewont.


10- With plural names

The Canary Islands are situated off the coast of Africa.


11- With important job titles

The President gave the order to launch a pre-emptive strike.