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Isn't it so that in Finnish the words ending changes to indicate whether it is determined or not?Polyglot 17:45 May 4, 2003 (UTC)

Not really. You may be thinking of Swedish and other North Germanic languages that have suffixed definite articles. It's true in Finnish that, in certain contexts, certain cases are used so that they indicate the same thing that is expressed in English by different articles. Word order can matter, too. Hyark 20:48, 26 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Should we include Da as a related term? e.g. album title Boy in Da Corner (by Dylan Mills, a.k.a. Dizzee Rascal). Would it be described as 'slang' or 'hip-hop'? DavidL 21:23 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I suggest putting it under "see also", as "colloquial". We can then add "t'" (northern English), and "de" (Black? Southern US?) — Paul G 13:03, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I don't see why the unstressed pronunciation has been removed. This is important. thə, /ðə/, /D@/ — Hippietrail 00:09, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)

It's simply not correct to talk about the unstressed pronunciation. Different dialects and even different speakers do different things, including /D@/, /D/, /D'/ (/D/ followed by a glottal stop, if I got the SAMPA wrong), and probably others. I've tried to detail that in the note on pronunciation, but we're really verging into phonology here. Similarly, the original statement distinguishing pre-vocalic and pre-consonantal was incorrect, and again the real story is a matter of phonology.
The only reason to talk about this at all is to note that the behaves a bit differently because it tends to attach to its target (or whatever the technical term is -- I'll see if I can look that up). But we don't want to go to far. For example, we might mention the y glide that gets inserted between a stressed the and a word starting with a vowel (the onion) if you pronounce the long e there, but that's the same for any vowel/vowel comination (be alert) for example, so it doesn't deserve special mention.
Hope that clarifies somewhat. -dmh 12:59, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)
But /ðə/ is the standard unstressed pronunciation - check any print dictionary. It's important that Wiktionary gives this too. — Paul G 13:03, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I wonder if that reflects actual usage. E.g., take 100 people at random and get them to say "the word 'the'" and see how it comes out. My personal inclination is to use a long 'e', but I may just be non-standard. In any case, the present pronunciation section looks OK to me. -dmh 19:52, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Where there are different forms for different numbers, genders and cases, these would look better if they were tabulated. — Paul G 13:20, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)


Number three needs some work. Mention of adjectival nouns needs to be made. It seems that the function of "the" is to turn adjectives, "hungry," into noun phrases, "the hungry." I can't really think of a good dictionary sounding phrasing, so i'll leave it for now.

Part of speech[edit]

Should this be listed as ===Article=== and further qualified on the definition lines? --Connel MacKenzie T C 19:26, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

I think that makes more sense, yeah. Jon Harald Søby 19:29, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

The US Festival[edit]

The usage notes touches on what happens in dialect that does not pronounce "the" as /ðiː/ before a vowel, and takes the example of "the US Festival". I am puzzled though, because I thought there was no need for this distinct pronunciation anyway since "US Festival", as far as pronunciation is concerned, doesn't begin with a vowel. In the usage notes of "an", which I believe gives me support, there are examples of when to use "a" and when to use "an". One specifically finds "a user (u is pronounced as yu)". Isn't the case the same when it comes to "US Festival"? 12:13, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps "Us festival" is a dated example. Only the first letter is capitalized, as it's "us" (as in "we") not "US" (as in "United States"). "The Onion" would be a more up-to-date example, but I was looking for a minimal pair (in this case "the us" vs. "thus"). -dmh 15:47, 8 January 2007 (UTC)


Is there a way to get rid of "the" in the definitions? Eyu100 03:02, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

I don't know, but I don't consider it necessary. If the definition said "'the' means 'the'", it would be a problem. But if the definition simply uses "the" as a large percentage of English sentences do, it doesn't have to be a problem. E.g. "'the' is the definite article in English". Circular arguments which involve greatly widening spirals, dependent mostly on other things and only partly on self-reference, can be valid. If we have a period at the end of every definition I don't think we leave it off when we define "period". I suppose a very small percentage of users may experience some frustration at the inclusion of the word in the definition in this case. Ideally it would not be circular at all but in the case of the word "the" it's such a common word it would be too hard to avoid using it. --Coppertwig 03:10, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

Non-parallel examples[edit]

The parallel examples (I'm reading the book/I'm reading a book) give people who already know how to use "the" something to think about to help them understand the written definition; but I think they do little or nothing to help someone who is not already familiar with "a" and "the". Even someone who already speaks a language with equivalent words will not be able to tell from those examples which is which. The non-parallel examples (The book I gave you yesterday/A book I saw on your shelf) are examples of usage which do illustrate the meaning and use of the word "the". At least a little. Compare "I have a broom" with "I used the broom to sweep the floor clean" as illustrations of the meaning of the word "broom". Since some people seem to prefer the parallel examples, I restored the original parallel examples and put the non-parallel examples as additional illustrative sentences. (The other two sentences about it being the most common word are interesting but IMO don't help illustrate the meaning and usage; a person could take almost any text and find the word "the" being used and get just about as much information about how to use it as those examples give.) --Coppertwig 14:11, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

But the non-parallel examples add nothing in terms of explanation. You could just as easily say: "A book I gave you yesterday." and "The book I saw on your shelf." The sentences about common usage should be under a header for "Trivia". I'll make that change now. --EncycloPetey 16:18, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
They do add something in terms of explanation. You could just as easily say those things only in the sense that you could just as easily say "I used the hat to sweep the floor clean." The value of the illustrative examples is not in the impossibility or difficulty in saying them (though if such examples could be found they might be preferable) but in the relative likelihood of a situation springing to mind or occurring in day-to-day life.
I could easily say "the book I gave you yesterday", but I would be unlikely ever to say "a book I gave you yesterday". Likely I only gave the person one book. If I had handed the person several books, I still wouldn't say "a book I gave you yesterday," but "one of the books I gave you yesterday". The only situations I can think of where I would be likely to say "a book I gave you yesterday" are: where I had given the person some boxes of miscellaneous stuff that they probably hadn't unpacked yet and therefore didn't know there were some books included; or where the person has severe memory loss.
Similarly, I can easily imagine saying "a book I saw on your shelf", but it's harder to find situations for saying "the book I saw on your shelf". In my experience, if a shelf has any books it almost always has more than one. If there is only one book, I would be more likely to say "the book on your shelf". If there is more than one, I might say "the book I saw on your shelf," but it wouldn't be literally correct, because I would be implicitly claiming not to have seen, even out of the corner of my eye, the other books on the same shelf; and I would probably also only find occasion to say that if I had already mentioned the same book so the person already knew which book had particularly caught my eye.
So there are differences in the likelihood of using the meaning of "a" or of "the" in each context, and therefore the examples can serve an illustrative purpose. Maybe there are better examples. "A book I saw at the library" might be better for the second one; though I find it too easy to imagine myself saying something like "you know that book I mentioned to you that I had seen at the library?" or "the book I saw at the library" for short. --Coppertwig 03:26, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
I see where you're going now (and didn't before). How about using: "The street in front of your house" and "A street in Paris"? This reduces the possibility of flip-flopping the usage. --EncycloPetey 03:31, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Those are better examples. Thanks. I've put them into the article. --Coppertwig 03:10, 30 November 2006 (UTC)


This part is quite complicated in some languages and it seems it's more appropriate for grammar references than dictionaries. I have added Japanese, Chinese and Arabic. Still not 100% happy, if it's clear. In Japanese, with verbs, it's a similar pattern: 学べば学ぶほど、何も知らなかった事に気づく - the more I learn, the more I feel I don't understand. ("more" is implied). Anatoli 01:06, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

American vs. British usage[edit]

"The" is more common in British English where it would be seen as superfluous in semi-informal American usage, harkening to early 20th century American usage. One example: "Ask the cancer nurses a question" ( American usage would likely omit "the" or use something such as "our". --达伟 11:02, 24 March 2010 (UTC)


The last entry for Romanian, cele, doesn't wikilink to anything Romanian. Rothorpe (talk) 01:14, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

That's because no one has added a Romanian section to that page yet. Chuck Entz (talk) 05:58, 12 May 2014 (UTC)