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Using The

The is used before nouns to talk about something with which the listener or reader knows about.

An Apple laptop is being used in a presentation given by Microsoft.

The laptop on the desk was made by Apple.

• I saw the moon last night.
(There is only one moon so the reader knows which moon)
• The capital of France is Paris.
(France has only one capital so the reader knows which capital)
• There is some milk in the fridge.
(I only have one fridge so the reader knows which fridge)

The first time you talk about something use a or an. The next time you talk about it use the.

• I want to buy an umbrella.
(There are lots of umbrellas to buy so we don’t know which one)
• I want to buy the blue umbrella we saw yesterday.
(We know which umbrella – the blue one – so the)
• There is a woman in reception.
(We don’t know which woman it is)
• The woman from the bank in reception.
(We know which woman it is, the woman from the bank)

• I live in a big house. The house is old and has four bedrooms.
(We say a house when we first talk about it because the reader doesn’t know which house. We say the house when we talk about it again because the reader now knows which house it is)
• I was on holiday last week. The hotel was very good.
(We say The hotel because the reader knows it is the hotel I stayed in on my holiday)

Remember: When you know what it is use the.
  • Exercise 1

    Remember: When you know what it is use the.

    Re-write each sentence CAREFULLY using the where necessary.

    Remember: When you know what it is use the.

    Re-write each sentence CAREFULLY using the where necessary.

  • Remember: When you know what it is use the.

    The man at the back is not a priest.

    Alt text: A man in a Darth Vader suit is walking behind a line of priests.

  • A or An before nouns?
    An should be used before nouns that talk about one person or thing, and begin with a vowel sound(a, e, i, o, u). (3:15)

    Vocabulary Video Lesson: Dictators 
    This vocabulary lesson will help you define fanatic, bully, tyrant, autocrat, oppressor, persecutor, dogmatist, exploiter and malevolent (8:00)