Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “the”

the

determiner uk   strong /ðiː/ weak /ðə/ us  

the determiner (PARTICULAR)

A1 used before nouns to refer to particular things or people that have already been talked about or are already known or that are in a situation where it is clear what is happening: I just bought a new shirt and some new shoes. The shirt was quite expensive, but the shoes weren't. Please would you pass the salt. I'll pick you up at the station. A1 used before some nouns that refer to place when you want to mention that type of place, without showing exactly which example of the place you mean: We spent all day at the beach. Let's go to the movies this evening. I must go to the bank and change some money. A1 used before noun phrases in which the range of meaning of the noun is limited in some way: I really enjoyed the book I've just finished reading. Do you like the other students in your class? A1 used to refer to things or people when only one exists at any one time: What will happen in the future? After I leave college, I want to travel round the world. They live in the north of Spain. Ed Koch was for many years the mayor of New York. When we went to Paris, we went up the Eiffel Tower. A2 used before superlatives and other words, such as 'first' or 'only' or numbers showing something's position in a list, to refer to only one thing or person: That was one of the best films I've ever seen. What's the highest mountain in Europe? I shall never forget the first time we met. You're the fifth person to ask me that question. used to say that the particular person or thing being mentioned is the best, most famous, etc. In this use, 'the' is usually given strong pronunciation: Harry's Bar is the place to go. You don't mean you met the Richard Gere, do you? used before some adjectives to turn the adjectives into nouns that refer to one particular person or thing described by the adjective: It seems that the deceased (= this particular dead person) had no living relatives. I suppose we'll just have to wait for the inevitable (= the particular thing that is certain to happen). used before some adjectives to turn the adjectives into nouns that refer to people or things in general that can be described by the adjective: She lives in a special home for the elderly. The French were defeated at Waterloo in 1815. used before a singular noun to refer to all the things or people represented by that noun: The panda is becoming an increasingly rare animal. The car is responsible for causing a lot of damage to our environment. used before a family name to refer to two people who are married or to a whole family: The Jacksons are coming to lunch on Saturday. used before some nouns referring to musical instruments or dances to mean the type of instrument or dance in general: Nico is learning to play the piano. Can you do the waltz? used before a noun to represent the activity connected with that noun: I've got to go under the surgeon's knife (= have a medical operation) next week. It's not a good idea to spend more than three hours at the wheel (= driving a vehicle) without a break. B2 used before numbers that refer to periods of ten years: the 60s B2 used before each of two comparative adjectives or adverbs when you want to show how one amount gets bigger or smaller in relation to the other: The sooner I get this piece of work finished, the sooner I can go home. used before comparative adjectives or adverbs when you want to show that someone or something has become more or less of a particular state: She doesn't seem to be any the worse for her bad experience. used for emphasis when you are expressing a strong opinion about someone or something: André's got a new job, the lucky devil.

the determiner (YOUR)

B1 used instead of a possessive adjective such as your, her, or my: He held his daughter by the arm. I can't remember where I parked the (= my) car.

the determiner (ENOUGH)

enough: I'd like to go out this evening, but I don't think I've got the energy. [+ to infinitive] I don't have the time to talk to you now.

the determiner (EACH)

each; every: It does 30 miles to the gallon.
(Definition of the from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of the?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “the” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

long time no see

said when you meet someone who you haven't seen for a long period of time

Word of the Day

Come on – you can do it! Phrasal verbs with ‘come’.

by Liz Walter​,
November 19, 2014
As part of an occasional series on the tricky subject of phrasal verbs, this blog looks at ones formed with the verb ‘come’. If you are reading this blog, I’m sure you already know come from, as it is one of the first things you learn in class: I come from Scotland/Spain.

Read More 

silver splicer noun

November 17, 2014
informal a person who marries in later life Newly retired and now newlywed – rise of the ‘silver splicers’ Reaching pension age becomes a trigger to tie the knot as baby-boomers begin to redefine retirement

Read More