Unit 68. The (1)

For the difference between the and a/an see Unit 67.

We say the… when there is only one of something:

  • What is the longest river in the world? (There is only one longest river in the world.)

  • We went to the most expensive restaurant in town.

  • The only television program she watches is the news.

  • Paris is the capital of France.

  • Everybody left at the end of the meeting.

  • The earth goes around the sun. (also: the moon / the world / the universe)

    We say: the sea the sky the ground the city / the country

  • Would you rather live in the city or in the country?

  • Don’t sit on the ground! It’s wet.

  • We looked up at all the stars in the sky.

    We say go to sea / be at sea (without the) when the meaning is go/be on a voyage:

    ? Ken is a seaman. He spends most of his life at sea.
    but: I would love to live near the sea. (not near sea)

    We say space (not the space) when we mean space in the universe:

  • There are millions of stars in space, (not in the space)
    but: He tried to park his car, but the space wasn’t big enough.

    Movies theater radio television
    We say the movies / the theater:

  • We went to the movies last night.

  • Do you often go to the theater?

    Note that when we say the theater, we do not necessarily mean one particular theater.

    We usually say the radio:

    ? We often listen to the radio.

  • I heard the news on the radio.
    But we usually say television (without the):

  • We often watch television.
  • I watched the news on television.
    but: Can you turn off the television, please? (= the television set)

    Meals: We do not normally use the with the names of meals:

  • What time is lunch?

  • We had dinner in a restaurant.

  • What did you have for breakfast?

  • Ann invited me to (or for) dinner. But we say a meal:

  • We had a meal in a restaurant.

    We also say a when there is an adjective before lunch/breakfast, etc.

  • Thank you. That was a very nice lunch, (not that was very nice lunch)

    For more information about the see Units 67 and 69, 70, 71, 72, 73.

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