15 Rules for Using THE in English | Definite Article

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

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 greatest

The largest

The worst

2. The” is used with the names of:

  • River 

E.g. The Amazon

  • Seas

E.g. The Black Sea

  • Oceans

E.g. The Atlantic Ocean

  • Bays

E.g. The Guanabara Bay

  • Banks

E.g. The Bank of America

  • Hotels

E.g. The Califonia Hotel

The Article “THE” in Geographical Names | Image

15 Rules for Using THE in English | Definite Article

3. The words ‘King’ and ‘Queen’.


The King of Morocco

The Queen of Sweden

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

King Mohammed VI (the Sixth)

Queen Silvia

4. Put the” before the names of musical instruments.


I taught myself how to play the piano.

He played the tune on the horn.

5. Do not put “the” before the names of single mountains or hills.


Mount Kilimanjaro

Nanda Devi

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


The Eastern Ghats

The Aravalli

6. Use the” with ordinals.


The first: He was the first person to set foot on the moon.

The eighth: The elevator broke down and we had to walk up the eighth floor.

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 Defence

The Sydney Opera House

The Anantara Hua Hin Resort

The Agricultural Bank of China

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


Susie used to live on Dudley Road.

I meet him at a club in the Steve Road.

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


Go to church – go to the church

Go to university – go to the university

Go to court – go to the court

Go to prison – go to the prison

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


He had to go to hospital for treatment.

I’m going to go to court to get custody of the children.

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


I’m going to the hospital to visit my brother.

We went to the court and asked for a delay to continue preparing our defense.

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


Gold will not buy everything.

Oil does not mix with water.

Flowers grow along the side of the wall.

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 oil from the vats is used for cooking.

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 whale is in danger of becoming extinct.

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 world

The sea

The sky

14. “The” is used before an adjective when the noun is understood.


Jeans are popular among the young.

15. “The” is also used as an adverb with comparatives.


The longer you keep this wine, the better it tastes.

The more you care, the more you have to lose.

Rules for Using THE in English.

7 responses on "15 Rules for Using THE in English | Definite Article"

  1. Congrats! Excellent review of one of the most confusing Grammar items. Thanks.

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