HOME

TheInfoList




''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 ...
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 The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how human ...

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'') when followed by a vowel sound or used as an Weak and strong forms in English, emphatic form. Modern American English, American and New Zealand English 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 "English articles#Use of articles, Use of articles". ''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 language, Old English system. Old English had a definite article '':wikt:se#Old English, se'' (in the masculine grammatical gender, gender), '':wikt:seo#Old English, sēo'' (feminine), and That, ''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 merger (phonology), merged into ''þe'', the ancestor of the Modern English word ''the''.


Geographic usage

An area in which the use or non-use of ''the'' is sometimes problematic is with toponym, geographic names: *notable natural landmarks – rivers, seas, mountain ranges, deserts, island groups (archipelagoes) and so on – are generally used with a "the" definite article (''the Rhine'', ''the North Sea'', ''the Alps'', ''the Sahara'', ''the Hebrides''). *continents, individual islands, administrative units and settlements mostly do not take a "the" article (''Europe'', ''Jura, Scotland, Jura'', ''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'' or ''the Isle of Portland'' (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 Oaks, New South Wales, The Oaks'', ''The Rock, New South Wales, The Rock'', ''The Birches, County Armagh, The Birches'', ''The Harrow, County Wexford, The Harrow'', ''The Rower'', ''The Swan, County Laois, The Swan'', ''The Valley, Anguilla, The Valley'', ''The Farrington'', ''The Quarter, Anguilla, The Quarter'', ''The Plains, Virginia, The Plains'', ''The Dalles, Oregon, The Dalles'', ''The Forks, Maine, The Forks'', ''The Villages, Florida, The Villages'', ''The Woodlands, Texas, The Woodlands'', ''The Pas'', ''Vatican City, the Vatican'', ''The Hyde'', ''West End of London, the West End'', ''East End of London, the East End'', ''The Hague'', or ''the City of London'' (but ''London''). Formerly e.g. ''Bath, Somerset, Bath'', ''Devizes'' or ''White Plains, New York, White Plains''. *generally described singular names, ''the North Island'' (New Zealand) or ''the West Country'' (England), take an article. Country, 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'', ''the Falkland Islands'', ''the Faroe Islands'', ''the Cayman Islands'', ''the Philippines'', ''the Comoros'', the Maldives, the Seychelles, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and The Bahamas. *Singular derivations from "island" or "land" that hold administrative rights – ''Greenland'', ''England'', ''Christmas Island'' and ''Norfolk Island'' – 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 remains recommended whereas use of ''the Argentine'' for Argentina is considered old-fashioned. 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'' (but ''the Republic of the Sudan'') and ''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: *Thorn with stroke, Barred thorn: the earliest abbreviation, it is used in manuscripts in the Old English language. It is the letter þ with a bold horizontal stroke through the ascender (typography), ascender, and it represents the word ''þæt'', meaning "the" or "that" (neuter nominative, nom. / accusative, 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 English_articles#Ye_form, ''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 periods, the letter Thorn (letter), thorn (þ) in its common script, or 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 in places such as Romans 15:29, or in the Mayflower Compact. 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 of Nations, 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 English words