“The” with Objects

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Welcome to your “The” with Objects lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• Specific types of things
The + adjective
The + nationality
Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

Specific types of things

Have a look at these examples:

The radio was invented around 1896.”

The Euro is the currency in Italy.”

The blue whale is the largest animal in the world.”

In these examples we do not mean one specific thing. “The radio” is a specific type of object, not the specific object itself. We can also use the with musical instruments. Have a look at these examples:

“I’d like to learn how to play the guitar.”

“She can play the piano.”

Compare a/an with the:

“I’m buying a guitar.”
“I’d like to play the guitar.”

“We saw a deer on the road.”
The deer is my favourite animal.”

Note that we use “man” (people in general / the human race) without the:

“The history of man is a complicated one!”

The + adjective

We use the + adjective to talk about groups of people, including:

the blind the dead the deaf the disabled the elderly
the homeless the injured the old the poor the rich
the unemployed the sick the young

“Everyone thinks that the rich should pay more takes.”

“There was an accident and the injured were taken to the hospital.”

“They promised to help the homeless.”

These expressions are always plural in nature. For example you cannot say “a rich” or “a young”. If you want to talk about one person you must say “a rich man” or “the young woman”.

Notice that we do not put an “s” at the end of these adjectives.

The + nationality

You can use the + nationality when the adjectives end in –sh or –ch (the Spanish / the French / the British etc.) This means ‘the people of this country:

The French are well known for good wine and cheese.”
(the French people)

The Spanish are very friendly.”
(the Spanish people)

“The French”, “the English” etc. are plural. The singular versions are “A Frenchman”, “An Englishwoman”.

You can also use the + nationality when the nationality ends in –ese:

The Japanese created anime.”

These words can also be singular:

“A Chinese.”  “The Chinese.”

“A Japanese.” “The Japanese.”

“A Sudanese.” “The Sudanese.”

You can also say:

“A Swiss.” “The Swiss.”

With other nationalities the plural ends in –s:

“An Italian.” “The Italians.”

“A German.” “The Germans.”

“An Egyptian.” ↔ “The Egyptians.”

With these words (Germans etc.), we cannot normally use the to talk about the people in general.

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