the


the
1 before vowels,; strong /Di:/ definite article, determiner
1 used to refer to a particular thing or person when everyone knows which thing or person you are talking about, or because only one such person or thing exists: I've got two cats now; the black and white one's called Rosie and the ginger one's called Joseph. | The audience clapped and cheered. | Take these letters to the post office will you. | The sky was gray and overcast. | They're holding an election later in the year. | the tallest building in the world | the United States/the Aegean Sea etc (=used before the names of certain countries, seas etc) | His Holiness the Pope/the Defense Minister etc (=used as part of someone's title) | the Smiths/the Kings/the Mitchells etc especially spoken (=used before the name of a family to refer to all the members of that family)
2 used to refer to something that everyone knows because it happens in nature or is a part of daily life: We drove through the night to get to New Orleans in time. | Ella's been complaining about the traffic keeping her awake at night. | We would ask tenants to switch off the water supply before vacating the property.
3 used to refer to a part of the body or to someone or something that belongs to someone: She hit him on the (=his) ear. | How's the (=your) arm? | The (=my) car broke down again today. | the wife spoken (=used especially by men to refer to their own wife or to another man's wife and considered to be offensive by some women)
4 used before an adjective to make it into a noun when you are referring to all the people who that adjective describes: We need more sheltered accommodation for the elderly. | the rich/the poor: She devoted her life to helping the poor. | the wounded/the disabled/the physically handicapped etc: parking facilities for the disabled | the Germans/the Japanese/the British (=used to refer to all the people from a particular country)
5 especially spoken used before an adjective to make it into a noun when you are referring to a situation that that adjective describes: Her behaviour is verging on the manic. | the impossible/the ridiculous/the insane: Come on now, that's asking for the impossible.
6 used before a singular noun to make it general: The condor is in danger of extinction. | The computer has revolutionized office work.
7 used before a plural noun to refer generally to a particular kind of thing: I find it easier to get up when the mornings are lighter. | The shops are always packed just before Christmas.
8 used before activities that people do, especially musical activities, but usually not including sports: Fiona's learning the flute. | He plays the violin.
9 the flu/the measles/the mumps spoken used before the names of certain not very serious illnesses: Amy's off school with the measles.
10 spoken used before referring to a particular day, date, or month: Tuesday the thirteenth of April | We moved house in the first week of July. | The meeting was scheduled for the Thursday.
11 used to refer to a period of time that lasts ten or a hundred years: the twenties/the thirties/the forties etc: There was a severe recession in the mid-twenties. | the sixteen-hundreds/the seventeen-hundreds/the eighteen hundreds: the great novelists of the nineteen-hundreds
12 by the metre/by the dozen/by the handful etc used before the names of measurements when describing how something is calculated, sold, or used: This cloth is sold by the metre. (=it is measured in metres in order to calculate its price) | We get paid by the hour.
13 used before a noun, especially in negative sentences to show an amount or degree needed for a particular purpose: I haven't the time to talk just now. | Eric didn't even have the common sense to send for a doctor.
14 used before the name of a thing that represents a particular activity: Rupert took to the bottle (=began to drink a lot of alcohol) after his wife died | He's already been under the knife (=had a medical operation) twice this year
15 spoken used with strong pronunciation before a noun to show that it is the best, most famous etc person or thing of its kind: “Apparently Paul McCartney's singing at the club tonight.” “Not the Paul McCartney surely!”
16 spoken used when describing someone or something when you are angry, jealous, surprised etc: He's stolen my parking space, the bastard! | I can't get this drawing pin out, the stupid thing. | “Jamie's won a holiday in Hawaii.” “The lucky devil!”
17 spoken used in certain phrases that express anger, surprise etc: What the hell are you doing here? | For the love of God what will the boy do next!.
USAGE NOTE: THE GRAMMAR The is not used with uncountable or plural nouns when you mean `all' of something in general, or when what you are talking about is not already specifically known about by the reader or listener: I love life/rock music/wine/ice cold beer/silk shirts/bananas | We sat around eating cheese and crackers and listening to rock music. The is used if you are mentioning specific things that are already known to the reader or listener: We drank the beer and the wine and watched the video (=the beer etc that I just told you about or that you know about). The is also used whenever you use an of phrase, relative clause, superlative etc, to say more specifically what kind of thing you mean: I love the life of a writer/the food that you cook/the best things in life. The is not usually used at all in the following situations (though in a few specific cases it may be if the noun is restricted as just described): 1. With many times of day and night and days, months etc, especially after at, by, and on: at sunset/noon/by night/on Monday (Compare during the night/on the Monday after Christmas). Compare also Last week was awful (=the one just before now) and The last week was awful (=the last week of my vacation etc some time ago). 2. When you give dates in speech you say: June the third (BrE)/ June third (AmE) or the third of June, but you would write June 3rd. 3. When you are talking about meals, especially after at, before, during, after, for, and the verb have: after/at/before/during breakfast | coffee for breakfast | When do you have breakfast? | Lunch is at one. (compare The breakfast she gave us was good .) 4. In many fixed expressions such as: by car/bus etc | at/to school/university etc | in/to bed/prison/church | arm in arm | face to face | husband and wife | from beginning to end 5. With names of languages and most diseases: She speaks Greek. | He's got cancer/flu/mumps/a cold. In informal spoken English, however, people often use the before the names of several common diseases: He has got the flu/the mumps. 6. With names of airports and railway stations: I'm arriving at Heathrow airport/Grand Central Station. 7. With many names of streets, places, countries, mountains etc: Madison Avenue/Oxford Street/New York/Texas/Holland/Mount Fuji (compare This isn't the New York I remember). 8. However, some such names always contain the: The Strand, The Bronx, The Hague, The Sudan. This includes especially the names of countries that are plural or contain the word state, republic etc: The Netherlands, the USA, the UK, the Irish Republic. 9. The is usually needed with names of hotels and restaurants if they do not end in 's: The Hilton/The Grand Hotel/The Mandarin. Also with names of rivers, seas, and groups of mountains: The Ganges/The Atlantic/The Rockies 2 adverb
1 used in comparisons to show that two things happen together: The more he eats the fatter he gets. | “When do you want this done?” “The sooner the better.”
2 used in comparisons to show that someone or something has more or less of a particular quality than before: the better/the worse: You'll feel all the better for having some time away from work. | none the wiser (=not knowing more about something than before): Her lengthy explanation left me none the wiser.
3 used in front of adjectives and adverbs to emphasize that something is as big, good etc as it is possible to be: He likes you the best. | I had the greatest difficulty understanding her.

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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