From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishthethe1 /ðə; before vowels ði; strong ðiː/ ●●●S1W1 definite article, determiner1XXused to show that you are talking about a particular thing or person that has already been mentioned, is already known about, or is the only oneThe audience clapped and cheered.I ordered a pizza and salad. The pizza was nice but the salad was disgusting.the tallest building in the worldsailing across the PacificThe prime minister has intervened personally.Elections will be held later in the year (=this year).How are all the family (=your family)?2used before nounsreferring to actions and changes when they are followed by ‘of’the growth of the steel industrythe arrival of our guests3used when you are about to make it clear which person or thing you meanThat’s the school that Terry went to.She laughed at the birthday card from Myra.4used before the name of a family in the plural to refer to all the members of that familyThe Johnsons had lived in this house for many years.5XXused to refer to something that everyone knows because it is part of our naturalenvironment or part of daily lifeWhat was the weather like?I looked out into the darkness.Sometimes the traffic kept her awake at night.The shops open at 9 o’clock.
6used before a singular noun to refer to a type of institution, shop, system etcYou used to buy them from the chemist.I heard it on the radio.I’ll put it in the mail for you today.7XXused to refer to a part of someone’s bodyLieutenant Taylor was wounded in the knee.How’s the ankle? Is it still hurting?8XXused before an adjective to make it into a plural noun when you are referring to all the people that the adjective describesShe devoted her life to helping the poor.a school for the deafwars between the English and the French9XXused before an adjective to make it into a noun when you are referring to the particular kind of situation or thing that the adjective describesCome on now, that’s asking for the impossible.fantasy movies that make the unreal seem real10XXused before a singular noun when you are referring to a particular type of thing or person in a general wayThe tiger is without doubt the most magnificent of the big cats.The computer has changed everyone’s lives in so many ways.complicated dances like the tango
11XXa)used to refer to a period of time, especially a period of 10 or 100 yearsfashions of the 60sthe great novelists of the 1900sShe remembers the war years.In the thirties unemployment was widespread.b)used to mention a datethe 3rd of NovemberThe battle took place on March the 21st, 1940. Shall we meet on the twelfth?12XXenough of something for a particular purposeI haven’t the time to talk just now.Eric didn’t even have the common sense to send for a doctor.13XXused to say which type of musicalinstrument someone playsFiona’s learning the flute.He plays the violin.14used to refer to a type of sport or a sports event, especially in athletics or swimmingWho won the long jump?She swam up and down, practising the crawl.15spokenXX used before a word or phrase that describes someone or something when you are angry, jealous, surprised etcHe’s stolen my parking space, the bastard!I can’t get this carton open, the stupid thing.‘Jamie’s won a holiday in Hawaii.’ ‘The lucky devil!’
16EMPHASIZEused to emphasize that the person, place, or thing you are mentioning is the famous one, or the best or most fashionable one. ‘The’ is pronounced strongly or written in a special way‘Elizabeth Taylor was there.’ ‘Not the Elizabeth Taylor, surely?’Miami is THE place for girls who like to live life to the full.17XXused before the names of certaincommonillnessesIf one of the children got the measles, we all got the measles.GrammarWhen not to use ‘the’• Don’t use the with uncountable or plural nouns to talk about a general type of thing. You say: I like music.We use computers.• Don’t use the with the name of a language. You say: Do you speak English?• Don’t use the with school, prison, college, university, or church when you are talking about them in a general way. You say: Children start school at 4 or 5. She spent a year in prison.• You don’t use the with times and months, or normally with days. You say: at midnighton Tuesdayin May• You don’t normally use the with meals. You say: Have you had breakfast?Come round after dinner.• You don’t normally use the with the name of a place. You say: This is Downing Street.We flew to Boston.They love Japan.When to use ‘the’• Use the when you are talking about something specific or something that the reader or listener already knows about. You say: I didn’t like the music in the film.All the computers (=the computers in this building) are down.They go to the school in the village.• Use the with days when saying which specific one you mean. You say: on the Tuesday before Christmas• Some places have the as part of their name: the Bronxthe UKthe Andesthe Mississippithe Atlanticthethe2 ●●●S3 adverb1COMPAREused before two comparative adjectives or adverbs to show that the degree of one event or situation is related to the degree of another oneThe more he eats the fatter he gets.‘When do you want it?’ ‘The sooner the better.’2XXused before an adjective or adverb to emphasize that something is bigger, better etc than all others, or as big, good etc as it is possible for it to beHe likes you the best.I had the worst headache last night.
Examples from the Corpus
the• Frieda likes you the best.• "When do you want this done?" "The sooner the better."• Tevis usually finishesthefastest.• The more I read, the less I seem to understand.the-the- /θi/ prefixXXanother form of theo-