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The article the is a determiner in a sentence when placed before a noun or a noun phrase. It is called a definite article as it points to a particular person or thing being mentioned in the sentence. It can be used before a singular or a plural noun, and before a countable and an uncountable noun.

 

We use the determiner the:

 

to refer to people or things which we know because they have already been mentioned.

Examples:

  • I recognize that man. He's the one who is doing great magic at the marketplace. 
  • Over there is a cave. There are countless bats roosting in the cave. 

 

 

to refer to a person or thing when there is only one.

Examples:

  • He is the boss of the company producing pencils.
  • The flood occurred only in the east coast of the country.

 

 

before superlatives, words such as firstonly, etc.

Examples:

  • Peacocks have the most beautiful feathers.
  • The first runner to cross the finishing line was a skinny man.
  • This duckling is the only pet I have.

 

 

before adjectives that act as nouns.  

Examples:

  • Sometimes I hate myself for dreaming the impossible.
  • They buried the dead wherever they found them.

 

 

before a singular noun that is representative of a group of similar people or things.

Examples:

  • A large and flightless bird, the dodo is now extinct.
  • The satellite has many uses, the most important of which I think is the transmission of information. 

 

 

before proper nouns.

Examples:

  • The Robinsons are the latest members of the ghost-hunting club.
  • The Niagara Falls is the largest waterfall in the world.