Unit 67. A/an and the
Here are some more examples:
There was a man talking to a woman outside my house. The man looked American, and I think the woman was Indian.
When we were on vacation, we stayed at a hotel. In the evenings, sometimes we had dinner at the hotel and sometimes in a restaurant.
I saw a movie last night. The movie was about a soldier and a beautiful woman. The soldier was in love with the woman, but the woman was in love with a teacher. So the soldier shot the teacher and married the woman.
Tom sat down on a chair, (we don’t know which chair)
We use a/an when the listener doesn’t know which thing we mean. We use the when it is clear which thing we mean:
Tom sat down on the chair nearest the door, (we know which chair)
Ann is looking for a job. (not a particular job)
Did Ann get the job she applied for? (a particular job)
Do you have a car? (not a particular car)
I cleaned the car yesterday, (a particular car, my car)
Can you turn off the light, please? (= the light in this room)
Where is the bathroom, please? (= the bathroom in this building/house)
I enjoyed the movie. Who was the director? (= the director of the movie)
I took a taxi to the station. (= the station of that town)
We got to the airport just in time for our flight.
We use the when it is clear in the situation which thing or person we mean. For example, in a room we talk about “the light / the floor / the ceiling / the door / the carpet,” etc. Study these examples:
Also: the police / the fire department / the army.
We also say the bank, the post office:
I have to go to the bank to change some money, and then I’m going to the post office to buy some stamps. (The speaker is usually thinking of a
particular bank or post office.)
We also say the doctor, the dentist, the hospital:
John wasn’t feeling very well. He went to the doctor. (= his doctor)
Two people were taken to the hospital after the accident.
For the see also Units 68 -73.