The Definite Article
The definite article is used when a particular thing is referred to. When the thing is definite!
You use the definite article:
- before a noun of which there is only one, or only one can be understood
- before an adjective used as a noun to describe a class of people.
- before the names of many geographical areas
- before the names of musical instruments
- in conjunction with a superlative
There's a special idiomatic function in connection with this:
You don't use the definite article:
- before meals, languages, sicknesses, sports, and many expressions of place and time.
- before buildings, places and forms of transportation when we are interested in the function, not the object itself.
Can you see that these sentences do not pertain to the function of the bus?
- before nouns used in a general sense, particularly abstract and uncountable nouns.
- When a phrase using of is employed, the noun usually has the definite article.
- That's not the case when you don't use of :
Linguistic usage also shapes the way we use the definite article. Compare the similar phrases below, more or less equal in meaning but not in the use of the definite article: