Knowing when to use an article can be confusing for English language learners. My students always have trouble with this and often put ‘the’ in front of people’s names. Articles are, in a way, adjectives to the noun; they describe and modify nouns. In this blog post we will be looking at some ways of remembering when to use ‘the’ to help make your English sound more fluent.
‘The’ is used to refer to a definite article to show that the article is specific: ”The book is on the table”, for example. We can physically see that there is a book on a table and therefore we refer to them as “the book” and “the table”.
We can also use ‘the’ to refer to a specific member of a group. So if we were describing someone in a crowd we could say, ”The girl on the right is the tallest”.
Another example would be “the number one bestselling book of the year”. We would refer to it as ”The bestselling book of the year.”
‘The’ can be used with non-countable nouns in cases such as ”She jumped into the water.” Why can we use ‘the’? Because we know that in this context a specific area of water is being referred to.
You can also use ‘the’ when referring to places, however there are a few rules to remember.
You can use ‘the’ to refer to:
1. Names of rivers, oceans or seas; for example ”the Indian Ocean”
2. Points on the globe such as “the Equator”,
3. Geographical areas such as “the Middle East”
4. Deserts, forests, gulfs and peninsulas such as “the New Forest”
However you must remember never to use ‘the’ before names of mountains, names of continents or names of cities. “I’m going to the London tomorrow” just doesn’t sound correct.
Follow these steps and not only will your English sound more fluent, you will also be able to naturally decide whether to add ‘the’ or not.