Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Language: Old English
Origin:

the

1 definite article, determiner
     
the1 S1 W1
1XX used 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 one:
The audience clapped and cheered.
I ordered a pizza and salad. The pizza was nice but the salad was disgusting.
the tallest building in the world
sailing across the Pacific
The Prime Minister has intervened personally.
Elections will be held later in the year (=this year).
How are all the family (=your family)?
2 used before nouns referring to actions and changes when they are followed by 'of':
the growth of the steel industry
the arrival of our guests
3 used when you are about to make it clear which person or thing you mean:
That's the school that Terry went to.
She laughed at the birthday card from Myra.
4 used before the name of a family in the plural to refer to all the members of that family:
The Johnsons had lived in this house for many years.
5XX used to refer to something that everyone knows because it is part of our natural environment or part of daily life:
What 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.
6 used before a singular noun to refer to a type of institution, shop, system etc:
You used to buy them from the chemist.
I heard it on the radio.
I'll put it in the mail for you today.
7XX used to refer to a part of someone's body:
Lieutenant Taylor was wounded in the knee.
How's the ankle? Is it still hurting?
8XX used before an adjective to make it into a plural noun when you are referring to all the people that the adjective describes:
She devoted her life to helping the poor.
a school for the deaf
wars between the English and the French
9XX used before an adjective to make it into a noun when you are referring to the particular kind of situation or thing that the adjective describes:
Come on now, that's asking for the impossible.
fantasy movies that make the unreal seem real
10XX used before a singular noun when you are referring to a particular type of thing or person in a general way:
The 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
11XX
a) used to refer to a period of time, especially a period of ten or a 100 years:
fashions of the 60s
the great novelists of the 1900s
She remembers the war years.
In the thirties unemployment was widespread.
b) used to mention a date:
the 3rd of November
March the 21st
British English
Shall we meet on the twelfth?
12XX enough of something for a particular purpose:
I haven't the time to talk just now.
Eric didn't even have the common sense to send for a doctor.
13XX used to say which type of musical instrument someone plays:
Fiona's learning the flute.
He plays the violin.
14 used to refer to a type of sport or a sports event, especially in athletics or swimming:
Who won the long jump?
She swam up and down, practising the crawl.
15 spokenXX used before a word or phrase that describes someone or something when you are angry, jealous, surprised etc:
He'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!'
16 used 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.
17XX used before the names of certain common illnesses:
If one of the children got the measles, we all got the measles.
GRAMMAR: GRAMMAR:

when to use 'the'
Do not use the: with uncountable or plural nouns to talk about a type of thing rather than specific things the reader or listener already knows about We drank tea and ate sandwiches. I like music. We use computers. with the name of a language Do you speak English? He understands French well. with words for institutions such as school, prison, college, university, church when you are talking about them in a general way Her son is at school. She spent a year in prison. Do you go to church?!! See also the note at hospital . with times, days, months, and seasons, especially after at, by, on, and in, or before last meaning 'the one before this' at midnight on Tuesday in May I saw her last week. with a date when you write it His birthday is July 29th.!! But in speech, you say the date as 'July the 29th'. with the name of a meal Have you had breakfast? Come round after dinner. with the name of a place, for example a street, town, country, or airport This is Downing Street. We flew to Boston. They love Japan. He's climbed Everest twice.!! But some places and countries, and all rivers and oceans, have the as part of their name the Bronx the Netherlands the UK the Rockies the Mississippi the Atlantic Use the: when you are talking about something specific or something that the reader or listener already knows about Did you eat the sandwiches (=the ones we made, mentioned, saw etc earlier)? I didn't like the music in the film. the computers we use with words for institutions when you are talking about a particular one They go to the school in the village. the church on the corner with days and seasons when you give more information about which specific one you mean on the Tuesday before Christmas in the summer after I graduated with nationality words, to mean 'the people of a particular country' She loves the French (=the French people). to make an adjective into a noun referring to a group of people help for the disadvantaged (=people who are disadvantaged)

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