The definite article the is the most frequent word in English.

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

• because there is only one:

The Pope is visiting Russia.
The moon is very bright tonight.
The Shah of Iran was deposed in 1979.

This is why we use the definite article with a superlative adjective:

He is the tallest boy in the class.
It is the oldest building in the town.

• because there is only one in that place or in those surroundings:


We live in a small village next to the church.  =  (the church in our village)
Dad, can I borrow the car? = (the car that belongs to our family)
When we stayed at my grandmother’s house we went to the beach every day.  =  (the beach near my grandmother’s house)
Look at the boy in the blue shirt over there.  = (the boy I am pointing at)


• because we have already mentioned it:

A woman who fell 10 metres from High Peak was lifted to safety by a helicopter. The woman fell while climbing.
The rescue is the latest in a series of incidents on High Peak. In January last year two men walking on the peak were killed in a fall. 

We also use the definite article:

• to say something about all the things referred to by a noun:

The wolf is not really a dangerous animal (= Wolves are not really dangerous animals)
The kangaroo is found only in Australia (= Kangaroos are found only in Australia)
The heart pumps blood around the body. (= Hearts pump blood around bodies)

We use the definite article in this way to talk about musical instruments:

Joe plays the piano really well.(= Joe can play any piano)
She is learning the guitar.(= She is learning to play any guitar)

• to refer to a system or service:

How long does it take on the train?
I heard it on the radio.
You should tell the police.

• With adjectives like rich, poor, elderly, unemployed to talk about groups of people:

Life can be very hard for the poor.
I think the rich should pay more taxes.
She works for a group to help the disabled.

The definite article with names:

We do not normally use the definite article with names:

William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet.
Paris is the capital of France.
Iran is in Asia.

But we do use the definite article with:

countries whose names include words like kingdom, states or republic:

the United Kingdom; the Kingdom of Nepal; the United States; the People’s Republic of China.

countries which have plural nouns as their names:

the Netherlands; the Philippines

geographical features, such as mountain ranges, groups of islands, rivers, seas, oceans and canals:

the Himalayas; the Canaries; the Atlantic; the Atlantic Ocean; the Amazon; the Panama Canal.


The Times; The Washington Post

• well known buildings or works of art:

the Empire State Building; the Taj Mahal; the Mona Lisa; the Sunflowers


the United Nations; the Seamen’s Union

hotels, pubs and restaurants*:

the Ritz; the Ritz Hotel; the King’s Head; the Déjà Vu

*Note: We do not use the definite article if the name of the hotel or restaurant is the name of the owner, e.g.,Brown’s; Brown’s Hotel; Morel’s; Morel’s Restaurant, etc.


the Obamas; the Jacksons




Thank you sir.

Hello respected team,
Is the following sentence true: I talked to him in spite of not liking him.
Thank you,

Hello Hosseinpour,

Yes, that sentence is correct. Well done!


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I want to ask about the usage of article the. If we want to tell a person that we are speaking to that she is a kind person, which sentence is the right one, "You are a kind person" or "You are the kind person." I can't figure it out since my friend and I have difference opinion about it. Hope you can help me.

Hello Suzanna,

In most contexts you would say 'a kind person'. If, however, you had already mentioned this kind person (before you know it was your friend), then 'the' would be appropriate. Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Okay. I understand. Thanks a lot Kirk.

I saw phrases like "at the begining", "in the beginning", and probably "from the beginning to the end". All these have "the", but today i came across "You saw the complete action from beginning to end".
Is "the" required or not ? what is the rule behind this ? thanks.

Hello sword_yao,

In general we use the definite article when we use the nouns 'beginning' and 'end' when are talking about a particular example. It is possible to use the indefinite article when speaking more generally: we need to make a good beginning if we are to succeedit will be an end that people will remember for ever.

The phrase from beginning to end is really not referring to a particular beginning or end, but rather to the concepts of beginning and ending. You could add articles or possessive adjectives here: from the beginning (of the action) to the end (of the action) / from its beginning to its end but this would change the meaning, making it about a particular beginning and ending of a particular thing. The phrase from start to finish works in a similar way.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

thanks Peter. Now i know "from beginning to end" is possible, and so is "from the beginning to the end".

Hello hope you can clarify this

let’s imagine that we run a chain of shops. Let’s call them best food STORES

we have four best foods in different locations in London Suddenly one of the best foods in our city was bombarded and News says

a best food store on downing street 10 was bombarded. ( for a reader it can mean that there might be more or he can assume one store was bombarded.

This is a similar example to those I have read in the article

there might be a few stores in city in different or we can do appositive

a best food store in London, on downing street 10, was bombarded here if we skip comma it will mean that there are other shops in London and the street is unimportant

Another problem that I have encountered and most of my teacher said the same. imagine that we speak about the restaurant. Everyone in a review says The tables ( which means the tables in the restaurant. The lights meaning the lights of the restaurant. how about

“tables that are in the corner are used for company meetings (restrictiveness tells us that there are other tables which are not used for meetings

another example taken from a professional article

At university research was conducted. The 60 participants of the research received different medications (here the author in the next sentence omits te article) and says something like this

Participants who received insulin performed better results ( this is restrictive which means there were other participants who received different methods of treatmenr) My question is that sometimes we use “the” from the beginning and this is also in articles

‘The participants who received…. I mhave seen both version. I assume that this sentence is when for example speakers want clarification in the first one it is like a piece f news the author assumes that we do not know the participants. He xcould have written

4 participants who received insulin performed better results
6 participants who received morphine …

when can we omit the article “the” and the sentence is still restrictrive

“the tables that are in the corner are used for meetings ( theer are others which are not used for meetings
“the tables, which are in the corner, are used for meetings< ( all tables are in the corner and are used for meetings

the last example I have seen in both versions

a description of a room

the room is amazing, The wallpaper presents flowers. Wall paper that is on one of the walls peels off it can mean that other wall paper does not peel off

the room is amazing, The wallpaper presents flowers. the wallpaper that is on one of the walls peels off it can mean that other wall paper does not peel off

the room is amazing, The wallpaper presents flowers. the wallpaper, which is on all walls, peels off it can mean that other wall paper does not peel off

In other words when can we omit “the” and have still restrictiveness. All books shows the and articles shows both sides. I have read somewhere that is is like a piece of news on tv, etc…