Thursday, March 9, 2017

Article Usage, Pt. II: "Oh, *the* places you'll go!"

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about basic article usage in the English language.

In this week’s post, the focus is on the.

We already know that the is a definite pronoun.

But what we haven’t learned is when the is necessary. The following examples clarify when to include the.

Geographical Use

There are specific rules about when the is used to modify a geographical place. Do not use the with:

Names of most countries and territories: France, Germany, Bangladesh

Do use the with: the United States, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, the United Kingdom

Names of cities, towns, or states: Champaign, Charleston, Illinois

Names of streets: Lincoln Avenue, University Boulevard, Main Street

Names of lakes or bays: Lake Charleston, Green Bay

Do use the with grouped lakes: the Great Lakes

Names of mountains: Mount Everest, Mount Fuji

Do use the with mountain ranges: the Appalachian Mountains or the Andes

Names of continents: Asia, Europe, Africa

Names of islands: Maui, Key West

Do use the with island chains: the Bahamas

There are also a few geographical places where the is definitely needed. These include:

Names of rivers, oceans, and seas: the Dead Sea, the Pacific Ocean

Points on the globe: the Equator, the North Pole

Geographical areas: the Middle East, the West

Deserts, forests, gulfs, and peninsulas: the Sahara, the Amazon Rainforest, the Gulf of Mexico, the Iberian Peninsula

Article Omission

Some nouns don’t need any article at all. These include:

Names of languages and nationalities: Chinese, English, Spanish, German

Exceptions include referencing the population of the nation: the Russians, the Italians

Names of sports: basketball, baseball, volleyball

Names of academic subjects: history, biology, composition, business management

As always, if you have a question about article usage, feel free to call or visit the Writing Center. 

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