15 Rules for Using THE in English | Definite Article

Learn how to use definite article “THE”, useful rules for using THE in English.

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What is the Definite Article ‘The’?

The Definite Article ‘the’ generally specifies and identifies. It answers the question: ‘Which one?’ Is specifies a person, place, or thing already mentioned.

The definite article ‘the’ means this, that. It answers the question which one?. It can be used with both singular and plural nouns. A noun is first introduced with the indefinite article and the definite article is used to refer to it again.

Rules for using THE

1.’The‘ is used in the superlative degree.


The best

The tallest

The least

2. The is used with the names of:

  • River 

E.g. The Ganges

  • Seas

E.g. The Arabian Sea

  • Oceans

E.g. The Pacific Ocean

  • Bays

E.g. The Bay of Bengal

  • Trains

E.g. The Blue mountain Express

  • Banks

E.g. The State Bank of India

  • Ships

E.g. The Queen Elizabeth is a famous British liner.

Rules for Using THE in English | Image


3. The words ‘King’ and ‘Queen’.


The King of France

The Queen of England

But the is not used before the words ‘King‘ and ‘Queen‘ if they are followed by the name of the king or queen.

King George V (the Fifth)

Queen Elizabeth II (the Second)

4. Put the before the names of musical instruments.


She plays the guitar.

He plays the violin.

5. Do not put ‘the’ before the names of single mountains or hills.


Mt. Everest

Nanga Parbat

But ‘the’ must be put before the names of mountain ranges or ranges of hills.


The Himalayas

The Alps

6. Use ‘the’ with ordinals.


The first: He was the first man to arrive

The tenth: The tenth chapter of the book is very interesting.

7. We say all day, all night; but all the morning, all the afternoon, all the evening, all the week.

8. Use ‘the’ before the names of municipal or government departments and before the names of shops, business houses, industrial concerns; banks, etc. except when they begin with a personal noun.


The Ministry of Education

The Public Library

The Grand Hotel

The State Bank of India

9. ‘The’ may be used before a name which ends in Road, but it may also be omitted.


He lives in Gandhiji Road.

I bought this pen at a shop in the Salamon Road.

10. Purpose for which the building exists visit or inspection.


Go to school – go to the school

Go to college – go to the college

And, go to hospital – go to the hospital

Go to prison – go to the prison

When ‘the’ is omitted, the reference is to the purpose for which the building exists.


Students go to school to study.

Christians go to church to pray.

With ‘the’ the reference is merely to the building. It is the visit or inspection that is referred to, not the actual purpose.


He went to the school to meet the Headmaster.

He went to the church to look at the buildings.

11. Do not put ‘the‘ before the names of substances if they are used in a general sense.


Gold is a precious metal.

We drink water.

Apples are good for health.

But ‘the’ must be used if the reference is to a particular kind of specimen of the substance.


The gold mined here is of poor quality.

The water in that well is very dry.

12. ‘the’ is used before a singular noun to express what we call the generic singular, i.e. the one thing mentioned is taken to represent all of the kind.


The tiger and the cat belong to the same family of animals.

An exception to the above rule is the noun man when it is used to denote the human race as a whole.

13. ‘the’ is used before common nouns which are names of things unique or their kind. (Before a noun of a thing which exists only one)


The sun

The moon

The earth

14. ‘the’ is used before an adjective when the noun is understood.


The rich must help the poor.

15. ‘the‘ is also used as an adverb with comparatives.


The more you study, the more you learn.

The earlier you come, the better of you.

Rules for Using THE in English.

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