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Using The or not with nouns
When dealing with UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS in the plural, or with UNCOUNTABLES, which are always in the singular, we must make the tricky choice of using or omitting the definite article THE.
In these cases, the definite article is used ONLY when the noun is DETERMINED, which means when it's not used in its "general meaning", but when some precisions are given about it by the words near it, or simply by the context.
I) OMITTING THE DEFINITE L'ARTICLE: when the noun is not "determined".
To express GENERALITIES:
- dealing with materials: glass, wood, sand, gold
- food: bread, fish, milk
- colours: red, blue, yellow
- human activities: tennis, football, cooking, swimming
- abstract notions: love, pride, poverty
- categories (persons, animals, objects) expressed in the plural : books, cats, children
II) NOUNS may be DETERMINED:
- by a clause making the meaning clearer: - The shirt that he's wearing today... (not any shirt, but the one he's wearing)
- by a complement introduced by "of" or another preposition: The progress of science... (not any progress, but that of science)
- by the context: The man looked mad (not any man, but the man we have described or spoken about)
III) Are also determined:
- people or things that are UNIQUE: the elements, the weather, the planets ... the wind, the rain, the snow, the sky, the moon, the earth, the weather, the sea
- Institutions : The Army, the Police, the Press, (but Parliament, Congress, Justice when used as proper nouns)
- Titles, when the name isn't mentioned: The Queen, The President, the Queen of England but Queen Elisabeth
- Inventions: the telephone, the Internet, the radio, the cinema, but television
- categories, animals ou vegetals in the singular: the dog, the wolf, the horse, the oak
MAN and WOMAN do not have articles when they represent "categories": Woman is said to be more intuitive than Man
So, you see... The lesson is quite short and easy... Not many things to remember...
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