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Dan loses the pen and doesn't have the time to find it, but he does make the time to talk about the definite article. Join Dan to learn more about the in only 90 seconds.

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BBC English Class

The definite article

The definite article is the. You probably know that we use it when both the speaker and listener know what is being talked about. What you might not know is that in another use it means the same as the adverb enough. Dan has more in his 90 second explanation.

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Hi guys! Dan for BBC Learning English here. In this lesson we are going to learn about the definite article, which is the word ‘the’ for stupid people like me. Now usually you’ve studied ‘the’ a million times. Today we’re going to do two things. One basic thing and one hopefully new thing that that you’ve not seen before.

And of course we’re going to do the whole thing in 90 seconds. Ready? Here we go.

So, ‘the’, the definite article, can only be used when both the speaker and the listener have shared knowledge. It’s very important that both people understand the thing which is being talked about. I’ll give you an example:

Where’s the pen?

Exactly, you don’t understand. But, ah ha, where’s the pen?

Now you understand my question because you’ve seen it – shared knowledge.

I’d like to go into a more detail about this but I just don’t have the time.

What did I just say?

I said: I’d like to go into a more detail but I don’t have the time.

In this sentence, I don’t have the time, ‘the’ is used to mean ‘enough’ - I don’t have the time means I don’t have enough time.

This is very common with the verb ‘have’ – though other versions are possible with ‘make’ or ‘get’. It’s most commonly done with a negative verb form and you can do this in any tense. Finally, if you want to use a verb afterwards, you need to use ‘to’ plus the verb.

Here are some examples:

When I was a schoolboy I didn’t have the money to buy a bike. 

Even if you have the intelligence to do the job, you don’t have the experience.

Excuse me, do you have the space for one more person? Of course! We will make the space for you!

Now, wow, just made it. I can’t believe it. By the skin of my teeth.

For more information please visit BBC learning English.com

I’ve been Dan, you’ve been fantastic and now that you have the knowledge to do this, get out there and do it!

See you later guys, bye.

Summary

Use the when both the speaker and listener know what is being talked about or to identify a particular thing.

  • Which pen do you want?
    The one on the table.

You can also use the to mean the same as enough.

When we use the like this it is often in a negative structure and frequently with the verb to have. We can also use it with make and get.

If followed by a verb, it is the infinitive with to.

  • We don't have the time to go to the shops before the film starts. 
  • Have we got the money for a foreign holiday this year? 
  • You don't have the skill to win at this game.
  • Can you make the time this weekend to visit your mother?
  • I don't think we can get the people to make the party worthwhile.

To do

Now, if you have the time, why not try the quiz?

The or enough?

5 Questions

In each question decide whether 'the' has a similar meaning to 'enough'. Click and drag the sentence to the correct column.

잘하셨습니다 퀴즈를 다하셨습니다
Excellent! Great job! 네 안타깝군요 이번 점수입니다:
x / y

The or enough?

5 Questions

In each question decide whether 'the' has a similar meaning to 'enough'. Click and drag the sentence to the correct column.

잘하셨습니다 퀴즈를 다하셨습니다
Excellent! Great job! 네 안타깝군요 이번 점수입니다:
x / y

End of session

Well done, you've reached the end of this session.

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이번 세션 문법

  • Use the when both the speaker and listener know what is being talked about or to identify a particular thing.

    You can also use the to mean the same as enough.

    When we use the like this it is often in a negative structure and frequently with the verb to have. We can also use it with make and get.

    If followed by a verb, it is the infinitive with to.