Unit 69. The (2)
Study these sentences:
The rose is my favorite flower.
The giraffe is the tallest of all animals.
In these examples the… doesn’t mean one particular thing. The rose = roses in general, the giraffe = giraffes in general. We use the + a singular countable noun in this way to talk about a type of plant, animal, etc. Note that you can also use a plural noun without the:
Rose are my favorite flowers, (but not The roses … – see Unit http://moscow-translator.ru/letter/murphy-unit-81.html) We also use the + a singular countable noun when we talk about a type of machine, an invention, etc. For example:
When was the telephone invented?
The bicycle is an excellent means of transportation. We also use the for musical instruments:
Can you play the guitar? (not Can you play guitar?)
The piano is my favorite instrument.
The + adjective
We use the with some adjectives (without a noun). The meaning is always plural. For example, the rich = rich people in general:
Do you think the rich should pay more taxes?
We use the especially with these adjectives:
the rich the old the blind the sick the disabled the injured
the poor the young the deaf the dead the unemployed the homeless
That man over there is collecting money for the homeless.
Why doesn’t the government do more to help the unemployed?
These expressions are always plural. You cannot say “a blind” or “an unemployed.” You have to say “a blind man,” “an unemployed woman,” etc.
The + nationality words
You can use the with some nationality adjectives when you mean “the people of that country.” For example:
The French are famous for their food. (= the French people)
The English are known for being polite. (= the English people)
You can use the in this way with these nationality words:
the British the Welsh the Spanish the Dutch
the English the Irish the French the Swiss
You can also use the with nationality words ending in -ese (the Japanese / the Chinese, etc.). With other nationalities you have to use a plural noun ending in -s:
(the) Russians (the) Italians (the) Arabs (the) Germans (the) Turks
For the see also Units 67, 68, and 70, 71, 72, 73.