We use the when there is only one of something:
– What is the longest river in the world? (there is only one longest river)
– The Earth goes around the sun, and the moon goes around the Earth.
– Have you ever crossed the equator?
– I’m going away at the end of this month.
Don’t forget the:
– Paris is the capital of France. (not Paris is capital of …)
BUt we use a/an to say what kind of thing something is (see Unit 69B).
Compare the and a:
– The sun is a star. (= one of many stars)
– The hotel we stayed at was a very nice hotel.
We say: the sky / the sea / the ocean / the ground / the country / the environment:
– We looked up at all the stars in the sky. (not in sky)
– Would you like to live in the country? (= not in a town or city)
– We must do more to protect the environment. (= the natural world around us)
But we say space (without the) when we mean “space in the universe.”
– There are millions of stars in space. (not in the space)
– I tried to park my car, but the space was too small.
We use the before same (the same):
– Your sweater is the same color as mine. (not is same color)
– “Are these keys the same?” “No, they’re different.”
We say:(go to) the movies, the theater:
– I go to the movies a lot, but I haven’t been to the theater in ages.
When we say the movies or the theater, we do not necessarily mean a specific theater.
We usually say the radio, but television or TV (without the).
– I listen to the radio a lot. but I watch television a lot.
– We heard the news on the radio. but We watched the news on TV.
The television = the television set
– Can you turn off the television, please?
We do not normally use the with the names of meals (breakfast, lunch, etc.):
– What did you have for breakfast?
– We had lunch in a very nice restaurant.
– What time is dinner?
But we use a if there is an adjective before breakfast, lunch, etc:
– We had a very nice lunch. (not We had very nice lunch)
We do not use the before noun + number.
For example, we say:
– Our plane leaves from Gate 10. (not the Gate 10)
– (in a store) Do you have these shoes in size 9? (not the size 9)
In the same way, we say:Room 126 (in a hotel), page 29 (of a book)
question 3 (on a test), Platform 6 (at a train station), etc.