Definite article "The": definition, use, examples and exercises

Discover the definite article "the" in English! Learn its definition and find out when to use it with videos, rules, exceptions and many examples!

When you feel ready test yourself with printable worksheets and three different types of exercises that you can find at the end of the lesson.

Notes

What are definite articles in English?

In the English grammar there is only one definite article: the. "The" is also the most frequent word in English.

We use the definite articlein front of a noun when we believe the listener/reader knows exactly what we are referring to.

Go ahead and discover more! 

Learn FREE with videos and interactive exercises

Definite article - Videos with examples

Watch the two videos with different voice speeds and discover some examples with the definite articleTHE:

"JOHN AND SARAH ARE IN THE GARDEN.

THE FLOWERS IN THE GARDEN ARE DAISIES.

NOW JOHN AND SARAH LOOK UP TO THE SKY

AND THEY ARE HAPPY BECAUSE THE SUN IS BRIGHT."

When to use the definite article "The" in English

In English the definite articleTHE is used:

  • before singular nouns
  • before plural nouns
  • when the noun is specific or particular.

 

The noun is definite when it refers to a particular item or member of a group. 

Here are some examples with the definite article THE:

  • Apples are good. - I want the apples that you have.
  • Flowers are beautiful  - The flowers in my garden are beautiful.
  • I love blue hats - The hat on the armchair is blue.

 

Download the printable worksheet below to learn and practise how to use the article THE!

"The": rules to use it

Here you can find other grammar rules about the English article THE.

The article THE is used with: 

  • nouns related to house and garden
  • mountains, sky, air, country
  • office, bank, disco.

 

For example:

  • We are in the kitchen. - We play in the garden.
  • We are in the mountains. - Birds sing in the sky. 
  • Mary is in the office. - I go to the bank. - My friends go to the disco.

 

Download the printable worksheet below to practise these new rules!

When not to use the article "The"

There are cases in which you should never use THE:

  • specific nouns like College, Hospital, School, Televsion/TV, University, Work
  • years, days, festivity
  • individual mountains and lakes
  • Mr, Miss, Mrs, Doctor
  • continents, countries, islands, languages.

 

Examples

  • I go to school every day. - Robert is watching TV. - Jim is working in hospital.
  • Jim was born in 2015. - Shops are closed on Sundays. - I work all week. - Christmas Day is on 25 December.
  • Lake Como is beautiful. - Mount Everest is very high.
  • Miss Smith is nice. - Doctor House is late.
  • Italy is beautiful. - Sicily is an island. - French is a beautiful language.

 

Download the worksheet below to practice when to use and when not to use the English article THE!

Exceptions to using "The"

Watch out! There are some exceptions in English grammar to using THE. You can use THE before:

  • The Alps - The Apennines

and

  • The United States of America / The USA
  • The United Kingdom / The UK
  • The Netherlands
  • The Philippines.

 

Examples

  • I live in the United States of America.
  • I study in the Netherlands.
  • There are beautiful beaches in the Philippines.

 

Download the worksheet below to learn all the exceptions!