"The": Special Uses

Lesson 5. Lesson on 10 unusual uses of "the" in English. E.g. "the Phillipines", "the Nile", "the supermarket". Lesson comes with special images to help you remember all the examples.

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The - special uses - exercise 1
  Video Exercise 1  The - special uses - exercise 2  Video Exercise 2

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Lesson transcript:

In this lesson we're looking at the special uses of 'The'.

Now there are 10 categories for us to look at and, as usual, all the examples will have pictures to help you remember them.

So let's start with the first category – and in all of these examples there is only one in the world.  

So number (i), this is 'the sun' and as I say there is only one of the sun, so we say 'the'.

Number (ii) and this is 'the moon'

Number (iii), this is 'the sky'.

Number (iv), this is 'the universe'.

Number (v), this is 'the ground'.

And number (vi), this is 'the floor'. So, only one of these objects.

Number 2, oceans seas and rivers with 'the'.

Starting with oceans, number (i), this is 'the Atlantic'

Number (ii), this is 'the Pacific'. And it's the same for all other oceans.

Seas now – number (iii), this is 'the Mediterranean'.

Number (iv), this is 'the Black Sea'.

So that's seas, and all seas take 'the'.

Now finally rivers and number (v), this is 'the Thames' and number (vi), the example here is 'the Nile'.

So, rivers generally take 'the'. Oceans, seas and rivers.

Number 3 – certain countries. Now, normally with countries there is no article. For example 'France', 'India', 'Brazil'.|

<These> are the exceptions and the first one is 'the United Kingdom' or 'the UK'.

We can also say 'Great Britain' without 'the' but 'United Kingdom' takes 'the'.

Number (ii), this is 'the United States' or 'the US' or 'the USA'.

Again we can say 'America' without 'the' but 'United States' takes 'the'.

Number (iii), this is 'the Philippines'.

Number (iv) is 'the United Arab Emirates' or 'the UAE'.

And finally number (v), this is 'the Netherlands'. (We can also say 'Holland' without 'the'.)

So those are the particular countries which take 'the'.

Number 4 now, museums, galleries and hotels – and there are five examples of using 'the'.

Museums first of all – this one is 'the British museum'. Now, I should say here that famous museums normally take 'the' however not so famous museums often don't take 'the'.

Galleries now and number (ii) is 'the Louvre' in Paris.

And number (iii) is 'the Guggenheim'.
So, famous galleries normally take 'the'.

And finally, famous hotels. Here we have number (iv), this is 'the Ritz' and finally number (v) is 'the Waldorf Astoria' in New York.

So, museums, galleries and hotels usually or often take 'the'

Number 5, famous American buildings.

3 examples here, number (i) this is 'the Empire State building'.

(ii), this is 'the Statue of Liberty' and number (iii) is 'the White House'.

So, famous American buildings normally take 'the'.

Number 6 now – certain organisations.

2 examples – number (i) is 'the European Union' or 'the EU' and number (ii) is 'the United Nations' or 'the UN'.

So certain organisations take 'the'

Number 7 and these are miscellaneous examples.

Number (i), this is 'the government' so a news programme might say that 'the government' has announced a new plan for example.

Number (ii), and this is 'the environment'. I might say – do you care about 'the environment', for example.

Number (iii), this is 'the weather'. I might say – how is 'the weather' in your town.

And finally, number (iv) is 'the countryside'.

So, I might say  – I'm going to 'the countryside' this week.

So those are miscellaneous uses of 'the'. There are more, but these are some of the most common ones.

Number 8 and in categories 8 to 10 we are going to be looking at expressions with 'the'.

In this category we're looking at everyday buildings.

As you can see, here in the first example number (i) is to 'go to the bank'.

Now normally, as you know, when we use 'the' we are talking about something in particular. However, if I say to my friend I'm going to 'the bank' it's not necessary for my friend to know which bank I'm talking about.

'Going to the bank' is simply an expression.

It's the same with number (ii) here and this is 'to go to the post office'.

Number (iii) now, and this is 'to go to the supermarket' and number (iv) 'to go to the cinema'.

So those are expressions with 'the' for everyday buildings.

Number 9 and this is expressions again – for using media.

Here we have four types of media – television, radio, newspaper and Internet.

For the expressions we would say – number (i) to watch 'the television'.

Note that for number (ii) we would say to listen to 'the radio',  number (iii) we would say to read 'the newspaper' and number (iv) we would say to go on 'the Internet'.

So those are expressions with 'the' for using media.

Finally number 10, and these are expressions again, for playing musical instruments.

So number (i) is to play 'the piano' and number (ii) is to play 'the guitar'.

So, 'the' for playing musical instruments.

And that's our last category of the 10. Here is the PDF of all of the examples in this lesson for you to download.

Join me in part (2) for the practice exercises.

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Nouns: Countables, Uncountables (1)
Articles (2)
(3) | (Zero Article 4) | The: Special Uses (5)
There is, there are (6)
Quantity: Some, Any (7) | Many, Much, A lot of (8) | A few, a little (9)
Prepositions of time: In, On, At (10)
The Present: Present Simple (11) | Present Continuous (12)
The Past: Past Simple (13) | Past Continuous (14) | Present Perfect (15)
Irregular Verbs (16)
The Future: Future Simple (17) | Future Plans (18)
Phrasal Verbs (19) (20)

     Countable and uncountable nouns 

     Countable and Uncountable
     Learn the two key rules

     "The": Special Uses
      "The": Special Uses
      10 special uses of 'the' here

     Phrasal Verbs - Part 1 

     Phrasal Verbs Part 1
     Each example with a picture

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