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Using ‘the’ and no article

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‘The’ is used to refer to a definite person or thing:

With a superlative: This must be the hottest day of the year.

When there is only one: the sun, the moon, the end, the kitchen, the minister

We use the with some names of some rivers, oceans, rivers, newspapers etc.

We do not use the with the names of most countries

We do not usually use the before a plural noun unless we add more information to show which group we are talking about.

Shoppers are prepared to queue outside a shop before it opens during a sale.
The shoppers outside the new shop have been queuing for hours.

No article needed

We do not use ‘a’, ‘an’ or ‘the’ with these words:
The names of most countries, before the names of lakes, islands or capes.
To England, from France, in Japan, from Lake Victoria, towards Malta, round Cape Horn

With ‘play’+ a game             play tennis    play football 

With have+ a meal unless it is a specific meal:
I usually have lunch at this cafe’. We organised a dinner for Dad’s birthday.

Before names of most festivals and holidays:
It snowed at Christmas but it was a nice day on New Year’s day.

Before gerunds and abstract nouns used in a general sense:
I love reading.
He enjoys being close to nature.

With uncountable nouns:
This cake is full of sugar.

Lesson by Tristan, English teacher at EC Malta English school

Choose a – an – the – no article for the following:

  • 1) Can you tell us __ quickest way to the station?

  • 2) He dreams about living on __ small island when he retires.

  • 3) There's a piano in __ living room.

  • 4) Sometimes __ tourists find it very difficult to get used to the traffic in the city.

  • 5) __ company I work for has offices around the world.

  • 6) I recently spent ten days on __ island of Tenerife.

  • 7) Did you get __ pasta I asked you to buy?

  • 8) I don't know how to play __ snooker.

  • 9) We're planning a holiday in Europe for __ Christmas.

  • 10) Don't put __ salt on your pasta. It's salty enough.