The definite article in English

The definite article in English is – compared to other languages – very simple because there is only one: the.

The definite article in the singular and plural: the

In English, the definite article is the same in all persons and in the singular as well as in the plural. This suits you because it makes it easier to learn the words.

  • the girl – the girls
  • the boy – the boys
  • the cat – the cats
  • the dog – the dogs

Although this seems so simple, it is important to pay special attention to the article when pronouncing it.

The pronunciation of the definite article the

Basically, there are two pronunciations: [ðə] and [ði:].

The th, which is represented as [ð] in the phonetic transcription, is the same in both variants. But the sound behind it differs, whereby it always depends on the actual noun.

Nouns that start with a consonant

If the noun has a consonant at the beginning of the word, you pronounce the definite article in English like this: [ðə].

  • the book – the books
  • the school – the schools
  • the cup – the cups

Nouns that start with a vowel

But if the noun has a vowel at the beginning of the word, the definite article in English is pronounced like this: [ði:].

  • the orange – the oranges
  • the uncle – the uncles
  • the university – the universities

The definite article in English: special features

Of course, there are rules about when you need the definite article and when you don’t. But there are also special features.

For example, countries or continents usually have no article in the singular, but use the definite article in the plural. The same applies to mountain peaks and mountains.

  • Germany / France / Spain
  • the United States of America / the Netherlands
  • the Mount Everest / the Alps

For days of the week and months, it depends on whether they are specified or not. When the day or month is explicitly important, the definite article is used.

  • September is the most popular month.
  • The September last year was warm.

But the greatest special feature is to be found in the seasons. Because here you can use the article the, but you don’t have to – both are correct.

  • in summer
  • in the summer

How to learn the definite article in English

As you can see, there is only one definite article: the.

Despite its simplicity, our app supports you in learning the words with articles in order to master the language perfectly in the future.

Do you have questions about the definite article in English?

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