Articles 2

Do you know when you need to use the in common phrases and place names?

Look at these examples to see when the is and isn't used.

I'm going to bed.
I walk to work.
My children are going to start school.
I visited the school yesterday.
Mount Everest is in the Himalayas.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Articles 2: Grammar test 1

Grammar explanation

Here are some ways we use articles in common phrases and place names.

Common phrases

We don't usually use an article in expressions with bed, work and home.

go to bed / be in bed
go to work / be at work / start work / finish work
go home / be at home / get home / stay at home

We also don't normally use an article in expressions with school, university, prison and hospital.

start school / go to school / be at school
go to university / be at university
be sent to prison / go to prison / be in prison
go to hospital / be in hospital

But we usually use the if someone is just visiting the place, and not there as a student/prisoner/patient, etc.

My son has started school now. I went to the school to meet his teacher.
I went to the prison a lot when I was a social worker.
I'm at the hospital. My sister has just had a baby.

Place names

We don't normally use an article for continents, most countries, cities, towns, lakes, mountains or universities. So, we say:

Africa, Asia, Europe
India, Ghana, Peru, Denmark
Addis Ababa, Hanoi, New York, Moscow
Lake Victoria, Lake Superior, Lake Tanganyika
Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus
Cardiff University, Harvard University, Manchester University

Some countries are different. Country names with United have the. There are other countries which are exceptions too. So, we say:

the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America
the Bahamas, the Gambia

Seas and oceans, mountain ranges and rivers have the:

the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Mediterranean
the Andes, the Himalayas, the Alps
the Nile, the Amazon, the Yangtze

Universities with of in the title also have the:

the University of Cape Town, the University of Delhi, the University of Tokyo

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Articles 2: Grammar test 2

Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.

Submitted by tryyourbest on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 03:39

Permalink

Thanks so much the teachers for useful lesson. It's rather easy to understand.

Submitted by Tiana Truong on Mon, 23/05/2022 - 08:08

Permalink

I wonder why many articles use THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC instead of COVID 19 PANDEMIC. Could you explain it to me?
Thank you!

Hi Tiana Truong,

It's because in the phrase "the Covid-19 pandemic", the word "Covid-19" specifies which pandemic you are referring to, so it's a specific description. We can talk about other pandemics in the same way, with "the" (e.g. the bird flu pandemic).

If you remove "pandemic" from the phrase, then you should also remove "the" because "Covid-19" is a proper noun, e.g.:

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the whole world.
  • Covid-19 has affected the whole world.

I hope that helps!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ansari. on Tue, 17/05/2022 - 18:18

Permalink

Grammar skills can be develop by yourself also practice

Submitted by DeepMS on Mon, 02/05/2022 - 11:05

Permalink

Article 2
3.
The University of Nottingham is in
The United Kingdom.

So how using The next to United Kingdom is wrong here in this context ?

Hello DeepMS,

The correct answer here is 'The University of Nottingham is in the United Kingdom'. Note that the first is 'The' (with capital 'T') and the second is 'the' (with lowercase 't'). Capitalisation is important in English.

If I've not answered your question, could you please rephrase it? I wasn't sure I understood it.

Please also note that after you press Check Answers, you can press the See Answers button to see what the correct answers are.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Excuse me sir. In the lesson 'Articles 1' in 8'th sentence of second test, both of 'The' and 'the' are acceptable. If you follow a unique rule, so you should change correct answer in that lesson or this lesson.
Anyway, thanks for your lessons. They are great and easy to understand and learn.

Hello morteza.snet,

That's a good point. I've changed the answer to Articles 1, Grammar test 2, question 8 so that only 'The' is correct.

Thanks for pointing out this inconsistency.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sokhom on Wed, 25/08/2021 - 03:06

Permalink
Hello, Sir! I was wondering why 'bird' in the sentence (from Longman dictionary) below has no article: E.g. There are over 40 species of bird living on the island. I asked about this once but I haven't got any reply. I know you are very busy. Please help me if you are available. Thank you in advance! Best Wishes

Hi Sokhom,

Do you mean this question about the phrase species of plant? There's a reply to your message from Kirk that I hope will answer your question, but feel free to ask here if anything's unclear. :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sokhom on Sun, 29/08/2021 - 12:40

In reply to by Jonathan R

Permalink
Thank you very much, sir! I was wondering if I the sentences below are correct: 1. Scientists have recently discovered a new species of a plant. 2. Scientists have recently discovered a new species of plant. 'plant' has no article. Is it because of the phrase 'a species of'? I think 'a species of + noun has the form, 'noun + of + noun'. So, if the second noun is a singular, it should be preceeded by the article, 'a'. I'm so sorry for asking a similiar question .Your explanation is really a big help for me. Best Wishes!

Hi Sokhom,

Yes, both sentences are correct. Their meanings are slightly different: in 1, the use of the article shows that the speaker/writer is referring to a new species of one particular plant (e.g., a sunflower), although he/she doesn't specify which one in this sentence. In 2, it could be any type of plant.

That's right, sentence 2 has no article before 'a' because it follows 'a species of'. Other phrases like this include a type of / a kind of / a sort of / a form of - all introduce examples in a general category, and can be followed by a noun without article. (They can also be followed by a noun with an article, referring to something more specific, as mentioned above.)

It's true that singular count nouns are often preceded by an article, but this isn't true 100% of the time. Article use or non-use also depends on particular phrases, such as the ones above. Other examples of phrases with count nouns but no article include:

  • I'm going to school.
  • He ran for president.
  • I read the book from cover to cover.

I hope that helps :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sokhom on Tue, 31/08/2021 - 06:39

In reply to by Jonathan R

Permalink
Thank you very much, sir. Your explanation is very clear and it helps me a lot. :)

Submitted by Sokhom on Sun, 28/11/2021 - 08:49

In reply to by Jonathan R

Permalink

Hello, Sir!
I read a book (Vocabulary in Use), and encountered a sentence 1 (in the book). I added the articles "a" and "-s" to the word "bird" in order to distinguish the meanings. This is what I get:
1. There are approximately 20 varieties of bird in this species. ("bird" in general which is in one species)
2. There are approximately 20 varieties of a bird in this species. ("a bird" in particular which is in one species (i.e. a parrot in which there are 20 kinds of it)
3. There are approximately 20 varieties of birds in this species.
a. ("birds" in general which is in one species) like the meaning in the sentence 1
b. ("birds" in specific (i.e. a parrot in which there are 10 types if it and a chicken in which there are 10 kinds of it)
I was wondering if I'm right, especially in the sentence 3. Could you please tell me if "bird" (in 1) and " birds" (in 3.a) refer to birds in generaI?
Your explanation is a great help for me.
Best Wishes!

Hello Sokhom, I'm afraid I don't know enough about what exactly a variety of bird means here to be able to answer your question with confidence. Is it possible for different varieties to be the same species? Or are they considered sub-species? Perhaps sentence 3 could be correct if so, but without understanding this better I couldn't say. Hope this helps. All the best, Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much, Sir!
I wanted to know if I'm right:
1. Scientists have recently discovered two new species of plant.
+ "plant" (in general): it may be flowers, bamboos, beans, etc. I think it must be 2 new species of flowers or 2 new species of beans, but it cannot be one new species of flower and one new species of bean; that's is, it must be two of a kind.
2. Scientists have recently discovered two new species of a plant.
+ "a plant" (in specific) refers to two new species of one particular plant (i.e. 2 new varieties of a rose: Shrub roses and Polyantha roses). I think in here we talk only about flowers, but not bamboos, beans, etc.
3. Scientists have recently discovered 2 species of plants.
+ "plants" (in general): it may be two new kinds of flowers, 2 new kinds of beans, or one new kind of flower and one new kind of bean.
I'm still not sure about "2 new species of plant" and " 2 new species of plants" because they (plant & plants) can refer to plants in general.
Thank you for your precious time.
Best Wishes!

Hello Sokhom,

Yes, you're right about these, though I'm not sure the difference you see between 1 and 3 is really there. Both of them speak of two plants that are considered new species, but the singular or plural doesn't clearly indicate whether they're of the same group of plants or not.

Well done!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Your responses are really a big help for me, Sir! :)
1.Scientists have recently discovered two new species of plant.
2. Scientists have recently discovered two new species of plants.
I really wanted to know if the two sentences are exactly the same in meaning.
I really appreciate it!
Best Wishes!

Hi Sokhom,

As Kirk mentioned, both sentences could mean a single plant or more than one plant, so yes, they have the same meaning in that sense. So, as you can see, their meanings overlap a lot.

For your question about whether they have EXACTLY the same meaning, that's more difficult to say. I think it's important to remember that in real life, sentences are said or written in a context (even though for learning, we often study the sentence by itself). The context is important for interpreting the exact meaning. So, part of the meaning comes from our interpretation of the sentence in its context, and it cannot be understood by looking at the sentence alone. In summary, the exact meaning of these two sentences may be the same or different (i.e. refer to one plant or many) - depending on the contexts in which they are used.

I hope that helps :)

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Andrew22 on Tue, 27/04/2021 - 01:25

Permalink
hello, I used "the" with university of Nottingham in grammar test 2 but it was wrong. Could anyone explain why I was wrong? Please
Profile picture for user Jonathan R

Submitted by Jonathan R on Tue, 27/04/2021 - 03:46

In reply to by Andrew22

Permalink

Hi Andrew22,

It's the right word, but it needs a capital 'T' as it's the first word in the sentence :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sameer Mankoo on Tue, 20/04/2021 - 14:42

Permalink
Why we used 'the' with bahamas? 5. She was born in Japan, but she went to '0' university in ' the ' Bahamas.

Hi Sameer Mankoo,

It's because it's a group of islands. We often use 'the' with groups of islands, e.g. the Bahamas, the Maldivesthe Philippines, the Channel Islands.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, Jonathan R,
I just wanted to ask why we don't use the before Japan as Japan is also a group of islands,I also understand we can say the Japanese archipelago.

Kalden

Hi Kalden,
Good question. It's simply because that group of islands has come to be called Japan, rather than any other name. Although we often use 'the' and a plural noun to name groups of islands, this is a pattern of usage rather than a universal rule (i.e., it's often true but not always true). The name for a place may be decided by many different factors (e.g., political, historical) as well as geographical ones.
Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Jonathan,
Thank you for the explanation.I had a question about why the article "the" is used in cometh the hour cometh the man ;the hour is upon us and let me have the honour of presenting this award to.
Kalden

Hi Kalden,

This is an idiom which means something like 'when the situation is desperate, a hero will appear' or 'a person will rise to meet the challenge'. The definite article is used in 'the hour' because it refers to a specific situation or time (i.e., the desperate situation that somebody is facing, or the time when action is needed). Similarly, it is used in 'the man' because it refers to a specific heroic person. (Exactly which situation and person are referred to, of course, depend on the exact context in which somebody uses this idiom. For example, imagine my brother needs to take an exam, and he's worried about whether he'll pass or not. I could say this idiom, meaning something like, 'when you take the exam, you'll rise to the challenge and do well'. The specific situation is the exam, and the specific person is my brother.)

Somebody would say 'the hour is upon us' to show that an event is starting or about to start, or that now is the time to do a particular action. So, 'the hour' refers to the specific time of that event/action. In your last example, it is a specific honour - 'the honour of presenting this award'.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hussainhxh on Tue, 13/04/2021 - 23:41

Permalink
Good explanation

Submitted by roberto90 on Mon, 12/04/2021 - 09:24

Permalink
why THE is the correct answer in this exercise? If he usually goes to the prison to teach classes. shouldn't be hyphen? 4. Every Friday my grandad goes to THE prison to teach a maths class.

Hello Roberto,

This is explained above where it says:

But we usually use the if someone is just visiting the place, and not there as a student/prisoner/patient, etc.

The idea in this sentence is that my grandad is a teacher who visits the prison, not a prisoner who stays there.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

 

 

Submitted by Maahir on Thu, 18/03/2021 - 03:13

Permalink
Hi teacher, If I am not wrong, "The" article can't be used with mountains but it can use with mountain range. So, I was thinking about the difference between mountain and mountain range. Could you kindly explain it more to me. Thanks

Hello Maahir,

A mountain is a single mountain and a range is a series of mountains that are connected together. Have a look at this Wikipedia article about Mount Shimbiris -- perhaps that will be a meaningful example for you. Be sure to read the full description.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Maahir on Thu, 11/03/2021 - 06:17

Permalink
Hello, I was wondering why we can't use "the" with Bahamas and Gambia. could you please explain it more?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 11/03/2021 - 06:51

In reply to by Maahir

Permalink

Hello Maahir,

You can use 'the' with those places - it says exactly that on the page above.

The Gambia is an unusual case, but the Bahamas is an example of a country comprised of a number of islands, and these often have names including the definite article.

Other examples include the Philipines and the Seychelles.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Saurabh Ajay K… on Tue, 16/03/2021 - 07:06

In reply to by Maahir

Permalink
Maahir we're using "the" with Bahamas and Gambia

Submitted by Honey June on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 05:32

Permalink
I've learned that we can use "the" when we say thing that is only one all over the world.There is nothing the same with this word.How to say that. Is it particular?

Hello Honey June,

I'm responding to this comment and also your other one about Grammar test 1 question 3.

We don't usually use 'the' in the phrase 'at university', unless we are referring to a specific university that we've already mentioned. In this case, the sentence is about someone's plans: after she finishes school, she wants to go to university. It could be any university, and so no 'the' is used.

But if we had just been talking about a specific university -- for example, the university in our city -- then we could say 'the university' here. Does that make sense?

It's true that we often use 'the' to refer to unique things: 'the Taj Mahal', 'the Eiffel Tower', or 'the great pyramids', etc. You can read more about this and other uses of 'the' on our definite article page.

I'm afraid I don't completely understand your last question. If the page I have linked to doesn't answer your question, please ask us again in another way.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Honey June on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 05:27

Permalink
Hello, I am a little get confused about No3 in Grammar test 1.Why doesn't it need to add "the" at university?Could u explain me more clearly?

Submitted by khaingkhaingwin on Wed, 06/01/2021 - 15:47

Permalink
I don't understand No.3 in garmmar test 2----University of Nottinghom. Why doesn't put article "the".Please explain.

Hello khaingkhaingwin,

The correct answer is 'The University of Nottingham is in the United Kingdom'. It's not correct to put 'the' as the first word, since the first words of sentences are always capitalised.

Does that make sense? By the way, after you press the Check Answers button, a Show Answers button appears. You can see the corrections this way.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by LUIZ ANTONIO on Sun, 06/12/2020 - 20:01

Permalink
Hi Teacher Could you please explain to me which are the correct form in questions 4 and 5 in section Article 2? In the explanation, the "THE" get to used for Seas and oceans, Below you find the question. 4. the Nile is the longest river in Africa. It flows north from the Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 07/12/2020 - 07:48

In reply to by LUIZ ANTONIO

Permalink

Hi LUIZ ANTONIO,

The correct forms are as follows:

The Nile is the longest river in - Africa. It flows north from - Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea.

We use 'the' for seas and oceans ('the Mediterranean Sea') and for rivers ('The Nile'), but we use no article for the names of continents ('- Africa') and lakes ('- Lake Victoria').

You can see the correct answers to any exercise once you have entered your answers and clicked 'Finish'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, in the first grammar test you should put in fourth example "Nile" without the but in grammar explanation, it is mentioned that "the" is used with oceans, rivers and mountains. Question: is it an error from british council team or is there another explanation to that. thank you.
Profile picture for user Jonathan R

Submitted by Jonathan R on Sat, 02/01/2021 - 11:31

In reply to by walimM

Permalink

Hi walimM,

Actually, in that question you should put in The Nile. I've just checked the exercise, and it marks The as correct for me. Did it give you an error?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Yigitcan on Fri, 20/11/2020 - 14:44

Permalink
Hi team I have two question. 1-It's very hot today and Ben has turned on __ fan to get some fresh air.(right answer is the fan but I have been thinking no article. Why we use '' the''? 2-Ted is listening to __ news on __radio. He looks worried.(Blanks are' '' the' '.Are they a rule?)
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 23/11/2020 - 07:40

In reply to by Yigitcan

Permalink

Hi Yigitcan,

In your first example, we use 'the' because the meaning is that there is one fan available to cool him down. We say 'the' in similar situations even if there are multiple items. For example, we say 'turn on the light' in a room even if there are several lights to choose from. The assumption is that we mean the main light if there is nothing in the context to make another meaning clear.

In your second example, we always say 'the news'. You can say 'a news programme' but always 'the news'. It is a singular noun, even though it ends with an 's'.

We use 'the' with several channels of communication: 'on the radio', 'on the phone', 'on the Internet'. This is not a consistent rule, however, as we usually say 'on television', 'in a telegram', 'in a text', amongst others. Articles are governed by both rules and convention, so with forms like these there is often an arbitrary component which means they must simply be memorised.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nhi Do on Thu, 19/11/2020 - 08:35

Permalink
Hello, Could you explain to me the different between two sentences: I go to school I go to the school Thank you. ND