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.
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
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.