CAE :: Lesson 26



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Article THE




Try to study these 7 basic rules which will help you use the article correctly:

RULE # 1

We do not use the article with names of countries. However there are some exceptions to this rule, e.g. the United States, the Netherlands, the Philippines. Other geographical places we do not use the article with are: the names of continents, cities, lakes, mountains and streets:

Europe, Africa, New York, Buenos Aires
Lake Michigan, Lake Geneva
Mont Blanc, Mount Aconcagua
Fifth Avenue, Florida Street.

But we use the article with these geographical places: the names of rivers, canals, oceans, seas, mountain ranges:

the Amazon, the Parana, the Panama Canal
the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean
the Andes, the Alps, the Himalayas.

RULE # 2

We do not use the article for referring to uncountable nouns (or plural countable nouns) in an indefinite way. But we use 'THE' in the pattern 'THE' + noun + a phrase to indicate who or what we are specifically referring to:

the advice of a counsellor
the love she gave her children
the letters on his desk

RULE # 3

We do not use the article in certain prepositional phrases with 'institutions' (e.g. church, college, home, hospital, prison, school, university, bed):

My wife's in hospital.
They go to church every Sunday.
He's in prison for armed robbery.
Go to bed immediately!!

In these examples we are thinking of the function of the institution. But when you are thinking of the institution as a specific place you use 'THE':

Susan's in the hospital round the corner.
I want to go to the church where the poet is buried.
The conditions in the old prison were really bad.
Don't put your shoes on the bed.


RULE # 4

We do not use the article with personal names:

Jane Fonda, Dr Valladares, Pope Francisco

But we use 'THE' to emphasise that someone or something is the most famous of its kind:

You mean the Jane Fonda?

We also use 'THE' with people's titles:

the Pope, the doctor, the Emperor of Japan

NOTE: Remember to use 'A' or 'AN' with people's jobs and professions:

Sandra is a doctor, Mike is an engineer

RULE # 5

We do not use the article to refer to plural countable nouns, but we use 'THE' + an adjective to refer to a category of people as a whole:

the old, the handicapped, the Argentinians

RULE # 6

We do not use the article with some time expressions:

at night, at sunset, before sunrise, after sunrise

But with many common time expressions we use 'THE':

in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening
in the past, at the moment, during the day


RULE # 7

We do not use the article when referring to the name of a sport:

I don't like tennis, Do you play football?

But we use 'THE' for referring to musical instruments:

Jorge Essen plays the piano beautifully.

On the next page you will be able to practise this grammar.


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