[stressed th ee; unstressed before a consonant th uh; unstressed before a vowel th ee] – /stressed ði; unstressed before a consonant ðə; unstressed before a vowel ði/
1. (used, especially before a noun, with a specifying or particularizing effect, as opposed to the indefinite or generalizing force of the indefinite article a or an): the book you gave me; Come into the house.
2. (used to mark a proper noun, natural phenomenon, ship, building, time, point of the compass, branch of endeavor, or field of study as something well-known or unique): the sun; the Alps; the Queen Elizabeth; the past; the West.
3. (used with or as part of a title): the Duke of Wellington; the Reverend John Smith.
4. (used to mark a noun as indicating the best-known, most approved, most important, most satisfying, etc.): the skiing center of the U.S.; If you’re going to work hard, now is the time.
5. (used to mark a noun as being used generically): The dog is a quadruped.
6. (used in place of a possessive pronoun, to note a part of the body or a personal belonging): He won’t be able to play football until the leg heals.
7. (used before adjectives that are used substantively, to note an individual, a class or number of individuals, or an abstract idea): to visit the sick; from the sublime to the ridiculous.
8. (used before a modifying adjective to specify or limit its modifying effect): He took the wrong road and drove miles out of his way.
9. (used to indicate one particular decade of a lifetime or of a century): the sixties; the Gay Nineties.
10. (one of many of a class or type, as of a manufactured item, as opposed to an individual one): Did you listen to the radio last night?
11. enough: He saved until he had the money for a new car. She didn’t have the courage to leave.
12. (used distributively, to note any one separately) for, to, or in each; a or an: at one dollar the pound.
Origin Of the:
before 900; Middle English, Old English, un-inflected stem of the demonstrative pronoun.
As shown above, the pronunciation of the definite article the changes, primarily depending on whether the following sound is a consonant or a vowel. Before a consonant sound the pronunciation is [th uh]- /ðə/ the book, the mountain [th uh-book, th uh-moun-tn] . Before a vowel sound it is usually [th ee] sometimes [th i] the apple, the end [th ee or th i-ap-uh l, th ee or th i-end] . As an emphatic form (“I didn’t say a book—I said the book.”) or a citation form (“The word theis a definite article.”), the usual pronunciation is [th ee] although in both of these uses of the stressed form, [th ee] is often replaced by [th uh] especially among younger speakers.
[before a consonant th uh; before a vowel th ee] – /before a consonant ðə; before a vowel ði/
1. (used to modify an adjective or adverb in the comparative degree and to signify “in or by that,” “on that account,” “in or by so much,” or “in some or any degree”): He’s been on vacation and looks the better for it.
2. (used in correlative constructions to modify an adjective or adverb in the comparative degree, in one instance with relative force and in the other with demonstrative force, and signifying “by how much … by so much” or “in what degree … in that degree”): the more the merrier; The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
before 900; Middle English; Old English thē, thȳ, instrumental case of demonstrative pronoun.
1. variant of theo- before a vowel: thearchy.
Word Origin And History For the:
late Old English þe, nominative masculine form of the demonstrative pronoun and adjective. After c.950, it replaced earlier se (masc.), seo (fem.), þæt (neuter), and probably represents se altered by the þ- form which was used in all the masculine oblique cases.
Old English se is from PIE root *so- “this, that” (cf. Sanskrit sa, Avestan ha, Greek ho, he “the,” Irish and Gaelic so “this”). For the þ- forms.
The s- forms were entirely superseded in English by mid-13c., excepting dialectal survival slightly longer in Kent. Old English used 10 different words for “the” (see table, below), but did not distinguish “the” from “that.” That survived for a time as a definite article before vowels (cf. that one or that other).
Adverbial use in the more the merrier, the sooner the better, etc. is a relic of Old English þy, originally the instrumentive case of the neuter demonstrative þæt.
the – [T͟Hē, T͟Hə]
- denoting one or more people or things already mentioned or assumed to be common knowledge: Compare with a.
“what’s the matter?” · “call the doctor” · “the phone rang”
- used to refer to a person, place, or thing that is unique: “the Queen” · “the Mona Lisa” · “the Nile”
denoting a disease or affliction: “I’ve got the flu”
- (with a unit of time) the present; the current: “dish of the day” · “man of the moment”
used instead of a possessive to refer to someone with whom the speaker or person addressed is associated: “I’m meeting the boss” · “how’s the family?”
- used with a surname to refer to a family or married couple: “the Johnsons were not wealthy”
- used before the surname of the chief of a Scottish or Irish clan: “the O’Donoghue”
- used to point forward to a following qualifying or defining clause or phrase: “the fuss that he made of her” · “the top of a bus” · “I have done the best I could”
- (chiefly with rulers and family members with the same name) used after a name to qualify it: “George the Sixth” · “Edward the Confessor” · “Jack the Ripper”
- used to make a generalized reference to something rather than identifying a particular instance: “he taught himself to play the violin” · “worry about the future”
- used with a singular noun to indicate that it represents a whole species or class: “they placed the African elephant on their endangered list”
- used with an adjective to refer to those people who are of the type described: “the unemployed”
- used with an adjective to refer to something of the class or quality described: “they are trying to accomplish the impossible”
- used with the name of a unit to state a rate: “they can do 120 miles to the gallon”
- enough of (a particular thing): “he hoped to publish monthly, if only he could find the money”
- (pronounced stressing “the”) used to indicate that someone or something is the best known or most important of that name or type: “he was the hot young piano prospect in jazz”
- used adverbially with comparatives to indicate how one amount or degree of something varies in relation to another: “the more she thought about it, the more devastating it became”
- (all the ——)
used to emphasize the amount or degree to which something is affected: “commodities made all the more desirable by their rarity”
- (all the ——)
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IWeb TEFL Team