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''The'' () is a grammatical
article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identifiability of the referents of the noun phrases. The category of articles constitutes a part of ...
in
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, denoting persons or things already mentioned, under discussion, implied or otherwise presumed familiar to listeners, readers, or speakers. It is the
definite article An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a that has a or as its or performs the same grammatical function as a noun. Noun phrases are very common , and the ...
in English. ''The'' is the
most commonly used word MOST may refer to: Organizations * Bridge of Independent Lists, MOST nezavisnih lista, political party in Croatia * Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology, a museum in Syracuse, New York, US * Ministry of Science and Technology, a mi ...
in the English language; studies and analyses of texts have found it to account for seven percent of all printed English-language words. It is derived from gendered articles in
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
which combined in
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured sys ...
and now has a single form used with pronouns of any gender. The word can be used with both singular and plural nouns, and with a noun that starts with any letter. This is different from many other languages, which have different forms of the definite article for different genders or numbers.


Pronunciation

In most dialects, "the" is pronounced as (with the
voiced dental fricative The voiced dental fricative is a consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front o ...

voiced dental fricative
followed by a
schwa In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as t ...
) when followed by a
consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...
sound, and as (homophone of pronoun ''
thee The word ''thou'' is a second-person singular Singular may refer to: * Singular, the grammatical number In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verb agreement (linguistics), agreemen ...
'') when followed by a vowel sound or used as an
emphatic form Emphasis or emphatic may refer to: Communication * Emphasis (telecommunications), intentional alteration of the amplitude-vs.-frequency characteristics of the signal meant to reduce adverse effects of noise * Cultural emphasis, alleged tendency of ...
. Modern
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...
and
New Zealand English New Zealand English (NZE) is the dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of phenomena: * One usage refers to a of a ...
have an increasing tendency to limit usage of pronunciation and use , even before a vowel. Sometimes the word "the" is pronounced , with stress, to emphasise that something is unique: "he is the expert", not just "an" expert in a field.


Adverbial

Definite article principles in English are described under "
Use of articles Use may refer to: * Use (law), an obligation on a person to whom property has been conveyed * Use (liturgy), a special form of Roman Catholic ritual adopted for use in a particular diocese * Use–mention distinction, the distinction between using ...
". ''The'', as in phrases like "the more the better", has a distinct origin and etymology and by chance has evolved to be identical to the definite article.


Article

''The'' and ''that'' are common developments from the same
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
system. Old English had a definite article '' se'' (in the masculine
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between femininity Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women A woman is ...
), '' sēo'' (feminine), and
''þæt''
''þæt''
(neuter). In
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured sys ...
, these had all
merged In corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are transactions in which the ownership of Company, companies, other business organizations, or their operating units are transferred or Consolidation (business), consolidated with other entit ...
into ''þe'', the ancestor of the
Modern English Modern English (sometimes New English or NE (ME) as opposed to Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th cen ...

Modern English
word ''the''.


Geographic usage

An area in which the use or non-use of ''the'' is sometimes problematic is with
geographic names Toponymy, also toponymics or toponomastics (from grc, τόπος / , 'place', and / , 'name') is the study of ''wikt:toponym, toponyms'' (proper names of places, also known as ''place name'' or ''geographic name''), their origins and meanings ...
: *notable natural landmarks – rivers, seas, mountain ranges, deserts, island groups (
archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as ...

archipelago
es) and so on – are generally used with a "the" definite article (''the Rhine'', ''the North Sea'', ''the Alps'', ''the Sahara'', ''the
Hebrides The Hebrides (; gd, Innse Gall, ; non, Suðreyjar, "southern isles") are a Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language ...
''). *continents, individual islands, administrative units and settlements mostly do not take a "the" article (''Europe'', ''
Jura Jura may refer to: Geography *Jura, Scotland, island in United Kingdom *Jūra, river in Lithuania Mountains *Jura Mountains, mountains on the French-Swiss-German border *Franconian Jura, a mountain range in south-central Germany *Swabian Jura, a ...
'', ''Austria'' (but ''the Republic of Austria''), ''Scandinavia'', ''Yorkshire'' (but ''the County of York''), ''Madrid''). *beginning with a common noun followed by ''of'' may take the article, as in ''the
Isle of Wight The Isle of Wight () is a Counties of England, county and the List of islands of England, largest and second-most populous island of England. It is in the English Channel, between two and five miles off the coast of Hampshire, from which it is ...

Isle of Wight
'' or ''the
Isle of Portland The Isle of Portland is a tied island Tied islands, or land-tied islands as they are often known, are landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is a ...
'' (compare ''Christmas Island''), same applies to names of institutions: ''Cambridge University'', but ''the University of Cambridge''. *Some place names include an article, such as ''
the Bronx The Bronx () is a borough of New York City New York City is composed of five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Each borough is coextensive with a respective Administrative divisions of New York (state)#Count ...
'', '' The Oaks'', '' The Rock'', '' The Birches'', ''
The Harrow ''The Harrow'' was an webzine, online magazine for fantasy fiction magazine, fantasy and horror fiction magazine, horror fiction, poetry, and reviews, launched in January 1998 by founder and editor-in-chief Dru Pagliassotti. The magazine has an a ...
'', '' The Rower'', '' The Swan'', '' The Valley'', '' The Farrington'', '' The Quarter'', '' The Plains'', ''
The Dalles The Dalles is the largest city of Wasco County Wasco County is one of the Oregon counties, 36 counties in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 United States Census, 2010 census, the population was 25,213. Its county seat is The Dalles, ...
'', '' The Forks'', ''
The Villages
The Villages
'', '' The Woodlands'', ''
The Pas The Pas ( ; french: Le Pas) is a town in Manitoba , image_map = Manitoba in Canada 2.svg , map_alt = Map showing Manitoba's location in the centre of Southern Canada , Label_map = yes , coordinat ...
'', ''
the Vatican
the Vatican
'', ''
The Hyde The Hyde is a locality in the London Borough of Barnet The London Borough of Barnet () is a suburban London boroughs, London borough in North London. The borough was formed in 1965 from parts of the ceremonial counties of Middlesex and Hertf ...
'', ''
the West End West End most commonly refers to: * West End of London, an area of central London, England * West End theatre, a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London, England West End may also refer to: Place ...
'', ''
the East End The East End of London, often referred to within the London area simply as the East End, is the historic core of wider East London, east of the Roman and medieval walls of the City of London and north of the River Thames. It does not have univ ...
'', ''
The Hague The Hague ( ; nl, Den Haag or ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd ed ...

The Hague
'', or ''the City of London'' (but ''
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
''). Formerly e.g. ''
Bath Bath may refer to: * Bathing, immersion in a fluid ** Bathtub, a large open container for water, in which a person may wash their body ** Public bathing, a public place where people bathe * Thermae, ancient Roman public bathing facilities Plac ...
'', ''
Devizes Devizes is a market town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. It developed around Devizes Castle, an 11th-century Norman architecture, Norman castle, and received a charter in 1141. The castle was besieged during the Anarchy, a 12th-century ...
'' or '' White Plains''. *generally described singular names, ''the North Island'' (New Zealand) or ''the West Country'' (England), take an article.
Countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social ...

Countries
and territorial regions are notably mixed, most exclude "the" but there are some that adhere to secondary rules: * derivations from collective common nouns such as "kingdom", "republic", "union", etc.: ''the Central African Republic'', ''the Dominican Republic'', ''the United States'', ''the United Kingdom'', ''the Soviet Union'', ''the United Arab Emirates'', including most country full names: ''the Czech Republic'' (but ''Czechia''), ''the Russian Federation'' (but ''Russia''), ''the Principality of Monaco'' (but ''Monaco''), ''the State of Israel'' (but ''Israel'') and ''the Commonwealth of Australia'' (but ''Australia''). * countries in a plural noun: ''the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
'', ''the
Falkland Islands The Falkland Islands (; es, Islas Malvinas, ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece ...

Falkland Islands
'', ''the
Faroe Islands The Faroe Islands ( ), or simply the Faroes or Faeroes ( fo, Føroyar ; da, Færøerne ), are a North Atlantic archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of is ...

Faroe Islands
'', ''the
Cayman Islands The Cayman Islands () is a self-governing British overseas territories, British Overseas Territory, the largest by population, in the western Caribbean Sea. The territory comprises the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Caym ...

Cayman Islands
'', ''the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
'', ''the
Comoros The Comoros,; ar, جزر القمر, ' officially the Union of the Comoros,Comorian languages, Comorian: ''Udzima wa Komori,'' french: Union des Comores, ar, الاتحاد القمري ' is an island country in the Indian Ocean, at the nor ...
'', the
Maldives Maldives (, ; dv, ދިވެހިރާއްޖެ, translit=Dhivehi Raajje IPA: ), officially the Republic of Maldives, is an archipelagic country in the Indian subcontinent of Asia, situated in the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and ...

Maldives
, the
Seychelles Seychelles (; ), officially the Republic of Seychelles (french: link=no, République des Seychelles; Creole: ''La Repiblik Sesel''), is an archipelagic island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country ...

Seychelles
,
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint Vincent and the Grenadines () is an island country in the Caribbean. It is located in the southeast Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, which lie in the West Indies at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea wh ...

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
, and
The Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a sovereign country within the Lucayan Archipelago The Lucayan Archipelago (named for the original native Lucayan people The Lucayan () people were the original resid ...
. *Singular derivations from "island" or "land" that hold administrative rights – ''Greenland'', ''
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
'', ''
Christmas Island Christmas Island, officially known as the Territory of Christmas Island, is an Australian external territory comprising the island of the same name. It is located in the Indian Ocean, around south of Java Java ( id, Jawa, ; jv, ꦗ ...

Christmas Island
'' and ''
Norfolk Island Norfolk Island (, ; Norfuk language, Norfuk: ''Norf'k Ailen'') is an States and territories of Australia, external territory of Australia located in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and New Caledonia, directly east of Australia's Evans ...
'' – do not take a "the" definite article. * derivations from mountain ranges, rivers, deserts, etc., are sometimes used with an article, even for singular, (''the Lebanon'', ''the Sudan'', ''the Yukon'', ''the Congo''). This usage is in decline,
The Gambia The Gambia (), officially the Republic of The Gambia, is a country in West Africa. It is the smallest country within mainland AfricaHoare, Ben. (2002) ''The Kingfisher A-Z Encyclopedia'', Kingfisher Publications. p. 11. . and is surrounded by ...
remains recommended whereas use of ''the Argentine'' for
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...

Argentina
is considered old-fashioned.
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with to the north; , , and to the west; and to the south; and has a coastli ...

Ukraine
is occasionally referred to as ''the Ukraine'', a usage that was common during the 20th Century, possibly originating with Ukrainian immigrant scholars not fluent in English referring to the country as so. ''
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It borders the countries of Central African Republ ...

Sudan
'' (but ''the Republic of the Sudan'') and ''
South Sudan South Sudan (), officially known as the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country in East Africa, east/central Africa. It is bordered to the east by Ethiopia, to the north by Sudan, to the west by the Central African Republic, to th ...

South Sudan
'' (but ''the Republic of South Sudan'') are written nowadays without the article.


Abbreviations

Since "the" is one of the most frequently used words in English, at various times short abbreviations for it have been found: *
Barred thorn Barring may refer to: * Barring (music), a guitar playing technique * Barring engine, forms part of the installation of a large stationary steam engine See also

* Bar (disambiguation) * Ban (law), Banning {{disambiguation ...
: the earliest abbreviation, it is used in manuscripts in the
Old English language Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
. It is the letter þ with a bold horizontal stroke through the
ascenderAscender may refer to: *Ascender (climbing), a rope-climbing device *Ascender Corporation, a font company *Ascender (typography), a font feature *XP-55 Ascender, a prototype aircraft *Isuzu Ascender, a sports utility vehicle *JP Aerospace#Ascender, ...
, and it represents the word ''þæt'', meaning "the" or "that" (neuter nom. / acc.). *þͤ and þͭ ( þ with a superscript ''e'' or ''t'') appear in
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured sys ...
manuscripts for "þe" and "þat" respectively. *yͤ and yͭ are developed from ''þͤ'' and ''þͭ'' and appear in Early Modern manuscripts and in print (see ''Ye'' form). Occasional proposals have been made by individuals for an abbreviation. In 1916, Legros & Grant included in their classic printers' handbook ''Typographical Printing-Surfaces'', a proposal for a letter similar to Ħ to represent "Th", thus abbreviating "the" to ħe. In Middle English, ''the'' (þe) was frequently abbreviated as a ''þ'' with a small ''e'' above it, similar to the abbreviation for ''that'', which was a ''þ'' with a small ''t'' above it. During the latter
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured sys ...
and
Early Modern English Early Modern English or Early New English (sometimes abbreviated EModE, EMnE, or EME) is the stage of the English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of . It is named after the , one of the ancient th ...
periods, the letter
thorn Thorne or Thorns may refer to: Botany * Thorns, spines, and prickles, sharp structures on plants * Thorn, quickthorn or common hawthorn (''Crataegus monogyna'') Places * Thorn, Netherlands * Thorn, German name of Toruń, Poland * Thorn, Bedfor ...
(þ) in its common script, or
cursive Cursive (also known as script, among other names) is any style of penmanship Penmanship is the technique of writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writi ...

cursive
form, came to resemble a ''y'' shape. As a result, the use of a ''y'' with an ''e'' above it () as an abbreviation became common. This can still be seen in reprints of the 1611 edition of the
King James Version of the Bible The King James Version (KJV), also known as the King James Bible (KJB), sometimes as the English version of 1611, or simply the Version (AV), is an English translation of the Christian Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβ ...
in places such as Romans 15:29, or in the
Mayflower Compact The Mayflower Compact, originally titled Agreement Between the Settlers of New Plymouth, was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony Plymouth Colony (sometimes Plimouth) was an British America, English colonial venture in America from ...
. Historically, the article was never pronounced with a ''y'' sound, even when so written. The word "The" itself, capitalised, is used as an abbreviation in
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...

Commonwealth
countries for the honorific title "The Right Honourable", as in e.g. "The Earl Mountbatten of Burma", short for "The Right Honourable Earl Mountbatten of Burma", or "The Prince Charles".'The Prefix "The"'. In ''Titles and Forms of Address'', 21st ed., pp. 8–9. A & C Black, London, 2002.


References


Notes

{{notelist
English grammar :''This category contains articles relating to English language, English morphology and syntax.'' English language, Grammar North Sea Germanic grammars {{CatAutoTOC ...
English wordsArticles that are about English language words, as opposed to being about the things described. English words and phrases, Words Words {{CatAutoTOC ...