Most uses of the show that I (the writer/speaker) can assume that you (the listener/ the reader) know who /what I am referring to.
Once a topic has been introduced, a speaker/writer can use the to refer to people/things that are normally present in that situation. For example, if someone is telling a story about a flight they were on, they can refer to the pilot, the plane, the airport, the food, etc., without having to be more explicit.
The is used:
1. To make a general statement about all things of that class (generic reference): The dolphin is an intelligent animal (a certain class of sea animals as distinct from other classes, such as the whale or the seal).
NOTE 1: The noun man is used without the when referring
generically to all human beings (not only all male human beings): This will lead to a disaster if man doesn't face reality.
NOTE 2: Referring to a class is also done with:
a) a/an+ singular noun: A dolphin lives in the sea (a dolphin as an example of a class of sea animals known as "dolphin");
b) no article + plural noun: Dolphins live in the sea (all creatures with the characteristics of sea animals called "dolphins").
Using the here is more formal than using a or a plural.
2. When it is clear from the context/ situation what person or thing is meant: Jill didn't turn round and the boy coughed quietly (the reader is supposed to know what boy). Pass me the salt, please (the one on the table).
3. When the noun is mentioned for a second time ("back reference"): They had a son and a daughter. The son was in the Army.
4. To specify the thing or person:
1) by means of clauses and phrases: The book I recommended now costs $5. The attempt to persuade her left him exhausted. He is the student you wanted to speak to.
2) by an "of" phrase: The independence of my country is of primary importance for me. The life of great people can teach us a lot.
3) with the meals when they are specified: The dinner at the Trenchers' was enjoyable.
4) with names of languages when they are specified: The English of America differs from the English of England.
NOTE special uses: It is a translation from the French. What is the English for "сосна"?
5. With nouns in certain syntactical positions:
1) with nouns in apposition or nouns forming part of an apposition modified by a particularising attribute: Jenkins, the student you have mentioned, has come. Pushkin, the great Russian poet, died in 1837.
NOTE: But if the person or the work of art is not widely known the indefinite article is used: ‘Pericles’, a comedy by Shakespeare, is hardly ever staged.
2) with nouns which follow the attribute expressed by the pronouns both, all: Both the stories were interesting. All the girls looked charming.
6. With adjectives:
1) with adjectives without a noun to refer to all the people with that characteristic , e.g. the sick means "people who are sick": It seems that the unemployed can be kept out of sight. Many adjectives can be used this way. Here are some common ones: aged, dead, disabled, elderly, handicapped, homeless, old, poor, rich, sick, unemployed, young.
2) with adjectives meaning general abstract notions: No one can achieve the impossible (things which are impossible). The following adjectives are often used this way: impossible, incredible, inevitable, new, obvious, old, possible, supernatural, unexpected, unknown, unreal, unthinkable.
3) with comparative adjectives: The larger the biscuit, the longer the baking time.
4) with nouns modified by adjectives in the superlative degree: Clair is the prettiest girl I have ever met.
7. With ordinal numerals: Our seats were in the third row.
NOTE: In dates the is spoken, but not written: He came on March, 12th (spoken as March the 12th); (on a letter) 12(th) March (spoken as the 12th of March).
8. With the words meaning time sequences: the beginning, the middle, the end; the first/last; the next; the following day; the present/ past/ future; in the past he used to be an army officer.
NOTE: next and last are used without the in time expressions (next week, last year, etc.)
9. In measuring expressions with by: by the pound/ kilo/dozen, etc.
10. With parts of the day in the morning/afternoon/ evening: The night was warm and beautifully still (specified by the particularising attributes).
11. With musical instruments: Chris plays the violin.
NOTE: No article is used to talk about roles in a musical group or in a piece of music: I don't know of any duets for piano and trumpet.
12. To refer to the systems of media: I don't like using the telephone (phone).
Other words of this type are: the newspapers (papers), the press, the post, the mail, the news.
NOTE: by phone (telephone), by post (mail).
13. With unique items (only one example or one set of them exists): the devil, the Earth/earth, the equator, the sun, the moon, the North/north Pole, the South/ south Pole, the Pope, the sky, the solar system, the stars, the universe, the world.
But: A/an is used when there is an attribute before the sun, the moon, the sky, etc.: A pearl-white moon smiles through the green trees.
NOTE: Some of them are like proper names and there is a tendency to use a capital letter with them.
14. With the names of the seasons the is optional: (the) spring/ summer/ autumn/ winter.
NOTE: the + weather/ climate/ temperature is used in a general sense: I believe that the weather can influence people's mood.
3.1. Choose the correct form, with or without the.
- Life/The life would be very difficult without electricity/the electricity.
- Skiing/The skiing is my favourite sport but I also like swimming/the swimming.
- Second World War/The Second World War ended in 1945.
- Do you know people/the people who live next door?
- Are you interested in art/the art or architecture/the architecture?
- All books/All the books on the top shelf belong to me.
- Don't stay in that hotel. Beds/The beds are very uncomfortable.
- Two of the biggest problems facing our society are crime/the crime and unemployment/the unemployment.
- I hate violence/the violence.
3.2. Answer these questions.
- Was it a good film? – Yes. It was the best film I've ever seen.
- Is it a big hotel? – Yes, it is ..... in the city.
- Is he a rich man? – Yes, he is ..... I've ever met.
- Was it a bad accident? – Yes, it was ..... I've ever seen.
- Is it a cheap restaurant? – Well, it is ..... you will find.
- It's hot today, isn't it? – Yes, it is ..... day of the year.
- What is you favourite flower? –The rose.
- What is your favourite tree? – .....
- Which bird do you like most? – .....
- What is your favourite car? – .....
- What is your favourite musical instrument? -– .....
3.3. Complete these sentences using the with the adjectives in the box. Some of them can be used more than once.
rich, sick, blind, poor, injured, unemployed, dead, disabled
- Braille is a system of reading and writing by touch for the blind.
- Many people were killed in the plane crash. The bodies of ..... were taken away. ..... were taken to hospital.
- Every English child knows the story of Robin Hood. It is said that he robbed ..... and gave the money to ..... .
- Those people with jobs have enough money but life is not so easy for ..... .
- Agnes has been a nurse all her life. She has spent life caring for ..... .
- It is said that we should never speak ill of ….. .
- Buildings should be specially designed so that can be used by ….. .
- It is only fair that ….. should pay higher taxes than ….. .
- In St. John's Park there is a special garden for ….. with strongly scented flowers.
- Life is found to be difficult for ……
3.4. Insert the where necessary.
Three learned Christian monks were travelling through Turkey hoping to meet wisest man in whole country. Monks explained that they wanted to meet him because they each had a question to ask him. Sultan sent for Nasreddin Hodja who came to palace at once. First monk stepped up and asked his question. "Where is centre of earth?" – At this moment centre of earth is exactly below front right foot of my donkey". "How can you possibly know that?" asked monk. If you measure earth carefully you'll find that I'm correct," replied Hodja. Second monk stepped up and asked his question. "How many stars are there in sky?" "As many as there are hairs on my donkey," replied Hodja. "As you'll see if you count them." Third monk came forward. "How many hairs are there in my beard?" he asked. "That is easy", said Hodja. " As many as there are hairs in donkey's tail. If you do not believe me step forward and we can pull out hairs from your beard and hairs from donkey's tail one by one and count them."
Third monk was not very keen on this idea so he had to admit he was beaten, so everyone could see that Hodja was wisest man of all.
Now answer these questions and retell the story.
1) Which man? – The wisest man.
2) Which country?
3) Which monks?
4) Which palace?
5) Which sultan?
6) Which centre?
7) Which foot?
8) Which donkey?
9) Which hairs?
10) Which tail?
3.5. Put in a/an, the where necessary. Retell the story.
Michael Jordan is American professional basketball player. He is often considered greatest player in history of game. He led Chicago Bulls of National Basketball Association (NBA) to five championships.
Jordan was born on 17th of February, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in Wilmington, N.C., and entered University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1981. As freshman, he made winning basket in 1982 national championship game. Jordan was named College Player of Year in both his sophomore and junior years. He left North Carolina after his junior year. Two times Jordan led U.S. basketball team to Olympic gold medals in 1984 in Los Angeles and in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain.
In 1984 Jordan was drafted by Chicago Bulls. In his first season as professional (1984-1985), he led league in scoring and was named Rookie of year. He missed following season because of injury. When he returned, he was again success, scoring 32 points per game. He was only second player (after Wilt Chamberlain) to score 3,000 points in single season (1986-1987). Jordan was named NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP) four times (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996) and was also named Defensive Player of Year in 1988.
In October 1993 Jordan retired briefly to pursue career in professional baseball. But 1995 he returned to basketball again. In the 1995-1996 season Jordan led Bulls to regular season record, best in history in NBA. Following season he won his fifth championship with Bulls and was named MVP of NBA Finals.
At 1.98 m, Jordan, guard, was exceptionally talented shooter and passer and tenacious defender. His nickname is "Air Jordan" because of his extraordinary leaping ability and acrobatic manoeuvres he used to evade defenders as he approached basket.
3.6. What do you think about these things? Work in pairs. Use:
In my opinion…./ I think…/ I don't think…/ I don't agree with …/ I'm against…./ I'm in favour of …
- (divorce) – I think divorce is something necessary.
– I don't agree with you. You say silly things!
- (terrorism) – …..
- (smoking) – …..
- (examination) – …..
- (capital punishment) – …..
- (nuclear power) – …..
- (modern art) – …..
- (horror films) – …..
3.7. Put in the definite article where necessary.
- The youngest boy has just started going to ….. school; …..eldest boy is at ….. college.
- She lives on ….. top floor of an old house. When ….. wind blows, all ….. windows rattle.
- ….. darkness doesn't worry ….. cats; ….. cats can see in ….. dark.
- My little boys say that they want to be ….. spacemen, but most of them will probably end up in ….. less dramatic jobs.
- Do you know ….. time? – Yes, ….. clock in ….. hall has just struck nine. – Then it isn't time to go yet.
- He was sent to ….. prison for ….. six months for ….. shoplifting. When ….. six months are over he'll be released.; ….. difficulty then will be to find ….. work. – Do you go to ….. prison to visit him?
- I went to ….. school to talk to ….. headmistress. I persuaded her to let Ann give up ….. gymnastics and take ….. ballet lessons instead.
- ….. ballet isn't much use for ….. girls; it is much better to be able to play ….. piano.
- I'm on ….. night duty. When you go to ….. bed, I go to ….. work.
- Peter's at ….. office but you could get him on ….. phone. There is a telephone box just round ….. corner.
3.8. Complete these sentences. Put in the where necessary.
- Two people were injured in the accident and were taken to hospital.
- I was very tired and it was very late, so I went ….. .
- Fred robbed a bank but was caught by the police. He was sent ….. .
- Tom doesn't often go out in the evenings. He usually stays ….. .
- Jill isn't a religious person. She never goes ….. .
- In Britain, children from the age of five have to go ….. .
- Children sometimes get into trouble if they are late for ….. .
- There is a lot of traffic in the morning when everybody is going ….. .
- Mrs Grimes has just had an operation. She is still ….. .
- When David leaves school, he wants to study economics at ..... .
- Bill never gets up before 9 o'clock. It's 8.30 now, so he is still ….. .
3.9. Insert the if necessary.
- He got ….. bronchitis and was taken to ….. hospital. I expect they'll send him home at ….. end of ….. week. – Have you rung ….. hospital to ask how he is?
- Ann's habit of riding a motorcycle up and down ….. road early in ….. morning annoyed ….. neighbours and in ….. end they took her to ….. court.
- He first went to ….. sea on a Swedish ship, so as well as learning ….. navigation he had to learn ….. Swedish.
- ….. family hotels are ….. hotels which welcome ….. parents and ….. children.
- On ….. Sundays my father stays in ….. bed till ten o'clock reading ….. Sunday papers. Then he gets up, puts on ….. old clothes, has ….. breakfast and starts ….. work in ….. garden.
3.10. Complete these sentences using "the + noun".
- It was getting dark in the room, so I turned on the light.
- There were no chairs so we all had to sit on ….. .
- As soon as I saw the fire, I called ….. .
- We didn't have any stamps, so we had to go to ….. .
- I had a toothache, so I made an appointment with ….. .
- Ann had to catch a train, so I took her to ….. .
- When we found that someone had broken into our house, we called ….. .
- Bill wasn't feeling well, so he went to ….. .
- We didn't have any money, so we had to go to ….. .
- The plane was delayed, so we had to wait at ….. for three hours.
3.11. Complete these sentences. Put in the where necessary.
- What ….. wonderful weather we are having today!
- What ….. charming people your parents are!
- ….. wood is much dearer than it used to be. In fact, ….. wood I used to make ….. shelves in ….. living room cost me a pretty penny.
- ….. pollution is one of ….. greatest problem facing ….. mankind.
- ….. moon and ….. earth both go round ….. sun.
- How delicious ….. cake is!
- They have two holiday homes, one in ….. mountains and ….. other at ….. seaside.
- She is wearing …..jeans. In fact they are ….. jeans she wore last year.
- ….. room was really tiny. We had to stand on ….. bed to close ….. door.
- Don't eat in this restaurant. ….. food is awful.
- When I was at ….. school I was really bad at ….. History.
- ….. flood did a lot of ….. damage to ….. monuments of ….. city.
3.12. Where you find a noun phrase without a determiner, put in a/an or the if necessary. Retell the story.
Which was the fastest?
This is a story about Frenchman, Englishman and American who were once travelling by train in Europe. Conversation was about how fast trains were in their countries. Frenchman said, "In my country trains go so fast that telegraph posts by railway line look like garden fence". Englishman said, " At home trains run so fast that we have to pour water on wheels to stop them from getting hot." American said, "That's nothing! I was once taking trip and my daughter came on to platform to see me off. While I was getting into compartment train started. I leaned out of window to give her kiss and kissed instead cow in fields six miles down railway line."
3.13. Complete these sentences. Dramatize the story.
Once (1) a poor flower-girl, one of those whom one can so often run into in (2) ….. suburbs of London, quite by (3) ….. chance overheard (4) ….. conversation between (5) ….. two gentlemen. One of (6) ….. gentlemen was (7) ….. professor of phonetics. He was saying to (8) ….. other that he could teach (9)….. uneducated people to speak good English.
(10) ….. two men were having (11) ….. private talk, but (12) ….. girl, who was hidden in (13) ….. shadow of (14) ….. house nearby was so interested in what they were saying that she stepped forward, trying not to miss (15) ….. word. (16) ….. fact was that she had for (17) ….. long time been thinking of learning to speak correctly, and now she saw (18) ….. excellent chance for herself. If she improved her manner of speaking (19) ….. owners of (20) ….. big flower shops would not turn her down any longer. She asked (21) ….. two gentlemen to buy (22) ….. few flowers from her and tried to speak to them, but they didn't listen to her and soon went away.
Great was (23) ….. professor's surprise when (24) ….. next day (25) ….. girl came to his house and had (26) ….. courage to ask him to give her lessons. At first (27) ….. professor refused to teach her, saying it was no use even trying, but (28) ….. girl insisted and finally he gave in.
(29) ….. first lessons, however, were rather discouraging: (30) ….. pupil's lips were stiff, (31) ….. endless exercises tired her, and (32) ….. results were poor: she failed to produce educated English sounds.
(33) ….. professor was cross with his pupil and could not forgive himself for giving in to (34) ….. girl. After (35) ….. while, however, he discovered that she was clever . Soon she learned to give (36) ….. excellent imitation of his own pronunciation. She took (37) ….. great interest in her lessons. She never missed (38) ….. single chance of practising the sounds. In spite of all (39) ….. difficulties she never lost courage or gave up hope. As (40) ….. result her English became so good that (41) ….. people who met her never guessed that she was not (42) ….. real lady. Neither her manner of speaking nor (43) ….. way she behaved gave her away.
(44) ….. story of (45) ….. girl is to be found in one of Bernard Shaw's most popular plays, which has been produced successfully both in (46) ….. country of (47) ….. author and in many other countries of (48) ….. world.
3.14. Insert a/an, the or nothing. Dramatize the story.
The man said to Hilary Graven, "My name's Jessop. I'm from (1)….. British Intelligence Service. I think you've read in (2)….. papers about (3)….. disappearance of young scientists from time to time. Quite (4) ….. few physicists, chemists, biologists and other scientists with (5) ….. knowledge of (6) ….. state security matters seem to disappear here, there and everywhere. Did they intend to go? Were they kidnapped? These are (7) ….. questions you might help us to find out!"
Hilary stared at Mr Jessop, "Me? How?"
The latter went on, "I'm coming to (8) ….. case of Thomas Betterton. He's (9) ….. young brilliant physicist. His research was connected with (10) ….. security matters. Two months ago he left for Paris to attend (10)….. scientific conference. (11)….. few days later he disappeared. His wife said she had no idea where he had gone or why. She didn't seem to be anxious about (12) ….. husband. (13)….. short while ago she left London saying to her friends that her health was badly affected and she needed a rest. We arranged to have her followed. It was bad luck that (14) ….. plane crashed here on landing last night. Mrs Betterton was taken to (15) ….. hospital with (16) ….. bad injury. She will die in (17) ….. day or two.
"How horrible!" said Hilary.
Jessop continued speaking, "(18) ….. fact is that you resemble Mrs Betterton very much. We'd like you to substitute for her and do what she intended to."
"But that's a gigantic hoax," said Hilary slowly. "I'm sure they'd recognize me."
"That would depend on your acting properly. Do you feel like (19) ….. trying?" Jessop asked her.
"All right. I'll try to do this," Hilary answered.
3.15. Use the proper article if necessary. Retell the story.
One day while Newton was sitting in his garden under apple-tree, he saw apple fall to ground. Of course, fall of apple is very common thing. Great many people before Newton had seen apple fall to ground, but they had never taken trouble to investigate such everyday occurrence. Newton was first man to ask: "Why does apple fall to ground? What makes it fall? Why does it not go up into sky? Or why does it not go sideways when it leaves tree?"
He thought matter over for long time. It took him many years to solve problem. At last he found out that earth pulls all things towards its centre, and that this was reason why apple had fallen towards earth and not away from it.
Newton also found that sun attracts earth and all planets, and that each planet attracts other planets, just in same way as earth attracts apples.
3.16. Use the proper article where necessary. Dramatize the story.
A Man with No Juice
Like I've always said it seems my main job in Paris is to book people at (1) – hotels, to make (2) – reservations for them at (3) ..... restaurants and to act as (4) ..... guide.
(5) ..... other day I received (6) ..... call from (7) ..... two Hollywood song-writers Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Hansen. "Look, Ben, we are coming to Paris for the week-end. Can you help us with (8) ..... reservation?"
(9) ..... only hotel I could name was "George V". I had made (10) ..... reservations at most of (11) ..... Paris hotels for (12) ..... Americans who never checked in and their managers did not speak to me.
"O'key," Mr Cahn said. "Get us two bedrooms and (13) ..... sitting-room."
"That may be difficult, because (14) ..... hotels are full now," I said.
"Well, use some juice, will you?" Mr Cahn asked.
"Juice" is (15) ..... Hollywood expression which means "influence".
I did manage to get (16) ..... accommodation and on Friday morning I went to (17) ..... hotel not to miss the celebrities. By nine in the evening they had not arrived. When I was leaving (18) ..... lounge (19) ..... room-clerk did not even look at me.
On Monday (20) ..... same cheerful voices phoned me. Their colleague had made (21) ..... reservation for them in another hotel and they were happy there. Cahn did not offer (22) ..... apology and I thought it would be rude to remind them of the Hotel "George V".
At lunch Mr Cahn asked: "Do you have any juice at the "Excelsior Hotel" in Rome?"
"No," I said in (23) ..... firm voice. "None at all."