When to use (or not) the definite article 'the'

18/22

Leitura

Below, you will read the general rules to understand when to use (or not) the definite article ‘the’:

Something already mentioned:

Example:

  • I like these shirts. The blue one is my favorite.

Something/someone unique:

Example:

  • The Pope lives in Vatican City.
    *I love looking at the sky.

A particular person:

Example:

  • The teacher who works here.
  • The boy with the red shirt.

Adjectives for a group:

Example:

  • The Spanish make wine.
  • I believe that the rich have a great lifestyle.

Family names:

Example:

  • My uncle lives next to the Jacksons.

Musical instruments:

Example:

  • I can play the piano.

Newspaper names:

Example:

  • Mom reads The Washington Post every morning.

Systems or services:

Example:

  • Are we taking the train?
  • I believe it’s better if we tell the police.

Organizations:

Example:

  • My sister works for the United Nations.

Something unique in the context:

Example:

  • Where is the bathroom?

A particular place:

Example:

  • I live in the blue house across the street.

Famous monuments, buildings, museums, works of art, etc.:

Example:

  • The Eiffel Tower is in Paris.
  • My dream is to see the Mona Lisa up close.

Hotels, bars, pubs, and restaurants (not named after a person):

Example:

  • I’m staying at The Plaza.
  • Let’s eat some pizza at the Palace.
  • I’ll have a lunch meeting at Brown’s.

Ordinal numbers:

Example:

  • It’s the second time I’ve called you.

Decades:

Example:

  • I was born in the 80’s.

Geographical areas, groups of rivers, mountain ranges, oceans, etc.:

Example:

  • The cruise crossed the Atlantic.
  • I visited the Panama Canal last year.

Countries (only if they include: “republic” / “kingdom” / “states” / plural names)

Example:

  • Erick is from the Philippines.
  • We went to the United Kingdom for our vacation.

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