The use of the definite article
The use of the definite article
Class nouns are used with the definite article:
1. When the noun denotes an object or objects which the speaker singles out from all the objects of a given class. An object is singled out in the following cases:
(a) when the speaker and the hearer know what particular object is meant. No special indication is necessary.
How did you like the play?
I have got the magazine.
У меня есть этот журнал (журнал у меня).
Note. — It should be borne in mind that there is a difference between knowing what object is spoken about and knowing the object itself.
1. A. I do not care to speak to the girl. I have never seen her.
Won’t you speak to her? B. But I do not know the girl either.
II. A. Who told you about it?
в: a girl.
A. What girl?
B. My sister.
In the first dialogue the speaker and the hearer do not know the person at all, but they know whom they mean, so the definite article is used. In the second the speaker knows the person, but he presents her to the hearer merely as one of a class, so the indefinite article is used.
(b) when the speaker uses an attribute pointing out a particular object.
This is the house that Jack built.
(c) when the situation itself makes the object definite.
The wedding looked dismal. The bride was too old and the bridegroom was too young. (Dickens)
When an object is singled out from all the objects of a given class the definite article retains its demonstrative meaning, and the English use the definite article much oftener than the demonstrative pronouns this or that. Thus the Russian sentence Дайте мне эту книгу should be rendered in English by Let me have the book.
As a rule the definite article is not translated into Russian. However, there are cases when it must be rendered by этот.
You told me before you wished to be a governess; but, my dear, if you remember, I did not encourage the idea. (Ch. Bronte) … я не одобрила эту мысль.
2. When the noun denotes a thing unique (the sun, the moon,
the universe) or a class.
The sun was getting warmer. (Abrahams) The bourgeoisie is cowardly. (London)
The indefinite article can be used when we mean a certain aspect in which the sun, moon and sky appear to us, a certain state of the sun, the moon, the sky. In this case an attribute is used.
A pearl-white moon smiles through the green trees. (Ch. Bronte)
3. With nouns used in a generic sense.
A noun used in a generic sense denotes a genus taken as a whole, a thing taken as a type, a genre.
The tiger has always had the reputation of being a man-eater. The telephone was invented in the 19th century. The tragedy and the comedy first appeared in Greece.
When the noun man is used in a generic sense no article is used.
Silas felt that his trust in man had been cruelly destroyed. (Eliot)
When the noun woman is used in a generic sense it is used with the definite article or occasionally without an article.
He had always been interested in that mysterious being — the
Woman is man’s helpmate.
A noun used in a generic sense should not be confused with a noun used in a general sense.
A noun used in a general sense denotes an object regarded as an individual representative of a class.
A detective story helps to while away the time.
(Every or any detective story is meant here.)
A noun in a generic sense denotes the whole class.
Conan Doyle is a master of the detective story. (The detective story is regarded here as a certain genre.)
Additional notes on the use of the Definite Article.
The definite article is used:
(1) with nouns modified by adjectives in the superlative degree.
Miss Tox had the softest voice that ever was heard. (Dickens)
(2) with nouns in word-groups the first component of which is some, many, none, most and the second a noun with the preposition of.
Most of the gentlemen looked both angry and uncomfortable. (Voynich)
(3) with nouns modified by the pronoun same and the adjectives wrong (не тот), right (тот), very (именно тот, тот самый).
То all invitations he replied with the same courteous and positive refusal. (Voynich)
I do wish we had not opened the door of the wrong room. (Jerome)
“Ah! Mr. Burton!” exclaimed the Director, “the very person I wanted.” (Voynich)
«… именно тот (как раз тот) человек, который мне нужен». Signora Grassini hated Gemma for the very expression of her face.
Синьора Грассини ненавидела Джемму за само выражение ее лица.
(4) with substantivized adjectives and participles
Only the simple and the humble were abroad at that early hour. (Bennett)
Grey conveyed some of his love of the beautiful to Cowperwood. (Dreiser)
The listeners noted something beyond the usual in his voice. (Galsworthy)
Note. — With countable abstract nouns the use of the articles is the same as with class nouns.
It is a capital idea if only one could carry it out. (Voynich)
The use of articles with class nouns modified by attributes.
The definite article is used when a noun is modified by an attribute which shows that a particular object is meant, i. e. by an attribute which might be called a particularizing attribute [20, c. 67] A particularizing attribute is used to single out an object from all the objects of the class, to point out one particular object or group of objects. The use of a particularizing attribute implies the idea of ‘тот, который’; ‘именно тот, этот’.
A particularizing attribute can be expressed by an of-phrase or an attributive clause. It is always used in post-position.
He knocked at the door of a very neat house. (Marryat)
The letters that I have here have come to me quite by accident. (Dreiser)
A particularizing attribute should not be confused with a descriptive attribute.
A descriptive attribute is used to describe an object or to give some additional information about it.
In a fortnight I got a long letter, which I considered odd. (E. Bronte)
The post on her left was occupied by Mr. Erskine of Treadley, an old gentleman of considerable charm and culture. (Wilde)
The use of a descriptive attribute does not affect the use of the article. The same articles would be used if there were no attribute whatever.
One day in January he called at the seminary to return a book which he had borrowed. (Voynich)
I have just spoken to the woman, who seems to have changed her mind. (Bennett)
They went side by side, hand in hand, silently toward the hedge, where the May flower, both pink and white, was in full bloom. (Galsworthy)
In the first example the indefinite article is used with the noun book because the object denoted by it is presented as belonging to a class. The noun woman is used with the definite article because the speaker and the hearer know what particular person is meant. The noun hedge is used with the definite article because the situation makes the object definite.
b) Nouns of material
With nouns of material used in a general sense, when a certain material as such is meant, no article is used.
Honey is wholesome.
On hearing what had happened, she (Katie) ran for warm water… (Voynich)
When a definite part of the substance is meant (when the noun is modified by a particularizing attribute or is made definite by the situation), the definite article is used.
Pettinger gulped down a glass of the sherry which Cornelius had
finally brought. (Heym)
The meat was good and White Fang was hungry. (London)
When an indefinite part of the substance is meant, some is used.
We took some bread and cheese with us, and got some goat’s milk up there on the pasture. (Voynich)
Nouns of material denoting different sorts of material are countables and the articles are used according to the general use of articles with class nouns.
A pleasure to give a good wine to a young woman who looked so well. (Galsworthy)
This use is very rare.
c) Abstract nouns
When abstract nouns are used in a general sense, no article is used.
While there is life there is hope.
When abstract nouns are modified by a particularizing attribute or when the situation makes the idea definite, they are used with the definite article.
He (Cowperwood) was the courage and force of his father, the spirit and opportunity of his brothers, the hope of his children, the dignity and significance of the Cowperwood name. (Dreiser) Last night I heard Carmen and enjoyed the music.
Note 1. — It should be borne in mind that abstract nouns modified by an attribute in pre-position are used without articles unless they are modified by particularizing attributes: English literature, Russian art. Soviet music.
Note 2.– The abstract noun weather is never used with the indefinite article. What fine weather! It is burning weather. (Ch. Bronte)
When the noun weather is used in a general sense, the definite article is used.
There are people who say that the weather can influence people’s mood. (Bennett)
Abstract nouns can be used with the indefinite article. In this case the abstract noun denotes a certain kind (оттенок) of a quality, feeling, state, etc. The noun nearly always has a descriptive attribute.
How clever you are, Mr. Hopper. You have a cleverness quite of your own. (Wilde)
In her eyes there was an eagerness, which could hardly be seen without delight. (Austen)
The indefinite article is used with the nouns period, population, distance, height, salary, etc. followed by of + numeral + noun.
Simpson was out of the city for a period of ten days. (Dreiser)
With proper nouns
a) Names of persons.
1. Names of persons are used without articles.
Sarie looked at Lanny and Celia. (Abrahams)
2. Names denoting the whole family are used with the definite article.
The Dashwoods were now settled at Berton. (Auston)
3. When names of persons are used, to denote a representative of a family, the indefinite article is used.
“Florence will never, never, never be a Dombey,” said Mrs. Chick. (Dickens)
4. Names of persons modified by a particularizing attribute are used with the definite article.
You’re not the Andrew Manson I married. (Cronin)
The tall blond man of forty is not much changed in feature
from the Godfrey Cass of six-and-twenty. (Eliot)
5. Names of persons used as common nouns take the article according to the general rule on the use of articles.
Swithin smiled and nodding at Bosinney said, “Why, you are quite a Monte Cristo.” (Galsworthy)
Mozart has been called the Raphael of music.
6. Nouns denoting military ranks and titles such as academician, professor, doctor (both a profession and a title), count, lord, etc. followed by names of persons do not take the article. In such cases only the proper noun is stressed: Colonel’Brown, Doctor’Strong. Common nouns denoting professions followed by names of persons are generally used with the definite article. In this case both nouns are stressed.
The painter Gainsborough has left many fine pictures.
Note. However if the name of a person is nearly always used with the common noun denoting his profession, the word group becomes an indivisible unit and the article may be omitted: judge Brown.
7. Nouns expressing relationship followed by names of persons do not take the article: Aunt Polly, Uncle James,
She turned to Cousin Clixam. (Bennett)
Nouns expressing relationship not followed by a proper noun and the nouns nurse, cook, baby do not take the article when used by members of the family.
“I’d like to see Mother,” said Emily. (Galsworthy)
If other people’s relations are meant, the article is used. The son is as clever as the father.
8. The use of articles with names of persons modified by adjectives is varied.
In most cases no article is used with names of persons modified by the adjectives old, young, poor, dear, little, honest, lazy.
… she is the widow of poor Giovanni Bolla … (Voynich) He saw that old Chapin wanted to moralize a little. (Dreiser)
When modified by other adjectives and participles names of persons take the definite article.
He thought Amelia worthy even of the brilliant George Osborne. (Thackeray)
The astonished Tom could not say a word.
9. Names of persons modified by the adjective certain are used with the indefinite article.
I heard it from a certain Mr. Brown.
b) Geographical names.
J. Geographical names like all the other proper nouns are used without articles: England, France, Moscow, London.
The same holds good when a geographical name is modified by an attribute in pre-position: Soviet Russia, North America, Latin America, Central Asia.
Note. — The word groups the Soviet Union, the United States are always used with the definite article.
2. Geographical names modified by a particularizing attribute are used with the definite article.
The Philadelphia into which Frank Algernon Cowperwood was born was a city of two hundred and fifty thousand and more. (Dreiser)
With names of oceans, seas, rivers the definite article is used: the Pacific Ocean (the Pacific), the Black Sea, the Thames, the Ohio River.
Names of lakes do not take the article if the word lake is used, which is nearly always the case; if it is not mentioned we find the definite article: Lake Windermere, Lake Ontario, the Ontario.
With names of mountain chains the definite article is used: the Urals, the Alps.
With names of mountain peaks no article is used: Elbrus, Everest.
6. With names of groups of islands the definite article is used: the Hebrides, the Bermudas.
With names of single islands there is no article: Madagascar.
7. The names of the following towns, countries and provinces are used with the definite article: the Hague, the Netherlands, the West Indies, the Ruhr, the Riviera, the Crimea, the Ukraine, the Caucasus, the Congo. The Lebanon is generally used with the definite article, occasionally without the article.
8. Names of streets and squares are used without articles: Oxford Street, Wall Street, Trafalgar Square, Russell Square.
There are a few exceptions: the High Street, the Strand.
c) Names of hotels, ships, newspapers and magazines.
Names of hotels, ships, newspapers and magazines are used with the definite article.
And he added that the Independent had accepted and was about to publish two poems which he had been able to write because of her. (Dreiser)
The three men came to the turning at the corner of the Grosvenor Hotel. (Hichens)
d) Names of cardinal points.
With the names of cardinal points the definite article is used: the North, the South, the West, the East.
In the expressions from East to West, from North to South no article is used.
e) Names of months and days.
As a rule names of months and days are used without articles.
May is a spring month. My day off is Friday.
When these nouns are modified by a particularizing attribute the definite article is used.
The May of 1949 will always rest in my memory.
Miss Trotwood came on the Friday when David was born.
Names of days are used with the indefinite article when we mean one of many Mondays, Fridays, etc.
Robinson Crusoe found his servant on a Friday.
I do not remember exactly when he came from Moscow, but I
am sure it was on a Monday.
Names of months are used with the indefinite article when modified by a descriptive attribute.
A cold May is the usual thing in Leningrad.
f) The use of articles with nouns modified by proper nouns.
If a noun is modified by a proper noun in the genitive case no article is used.
I met Robert’s father.
A noun modified by a proper noun in the common case is used with the definite article.
Last summer I visited the Tretyakov Gallery.
The sailor led him back to the little irregular square by the
Medici Palace. (Voynich)
USE OF ARTICLES WITH NOUNS IN SOME SET EXPRESSIONS
a)The use of the indefinite article with nouns in set expressions.
1. in a hurry — второпях
Things done in a hurry are done badly.
2. to have a mind to do something (a great mind, a good mind) — иметь желание что-либо сделать, быть склонным что либо сделать
I have a great mind to have a serious talk with her.
3. to fly into a passion — прийти в бешенство
If you contradict him, he will fly into a passion.
4. to get in a fury (in a rage) прийти в ярость
If you contradict him, he will get in a fury (in a rage).
5. to take a fancy to (chiefly with names of living beings)– проникнуться симпатией,
I wonder why she took a fancy to the little girl.
6. in a low (loud) voice — тихо(громко)
Don’t speak in a low voice.
7. a great many (with countables) — много
I have spoken to him a great many times.
8. a great deal (with uncountables) — много
We can’t skate today, there is a great deal of snow on the ice.
9. it is a pity — жаль
It is a pity you did not go to the concert last night.
10. it is a shame — стыдно
It is a shame not to know these
11. it is a pleasure — приятно
It is a pleasure to read beautiful poetry.
12. as a result — в результате
As a result of the inhabitants strenuous efforts the damaged city was soon rebuilt.
13. to have a good time — хорошо провести время
Last night we went to an evening party and had a very good time.
14. to be at a loss — быть в недоумении
She was at a loss what to say.
15. at a glance — сразу, с первого взгляда
She saw at a glance that something had happened.
b)The use of the definite article with nouns in set expressions.
1. it is out of the question — об этом не может быть и речи
Will you go to the theatre tonight?” “It’s out of the question you have lots of things to do.”
2. to take the trouble to do something — потрудиться
You had a difficult text to translate and you did not take the trouble to consult the dictionary.
3. in the original — в оригинале
You know English well enough to read Dickens in the original.
4. to play the piano (the violin, the harp) — играть на рояле (скрипке, арфе)
She plays the piano very well.
5. to keep the house — сидеть дома
She has a cold and will have to keep
the house for a couple of days.
6. to keep the bed — соблюдать постельный режим
She has a bad cold and will have to keep the bed for a couple of days.
7. on the whole — в целом
On the whole Tom is a pleasant fellow, but sometimes he has whims.
8. the other day (refers to the past) — на днях
I met him the other day.
9. on the one hand. on the other hand — с одной стороны.с другой стороны
On the one hand he certainly excites suspicion, but on the other hand we have not enough evidence against him. (Qppenheim)
10. to tell (to speak) the truth говорить правду; To tell the truth, — по правде говоря
He always speaks (tells) the truth.
11. to be on the safe side — для верности
I am almost sure of the pronunciation of this name, but to be on the safe side let us consult the pronouncing dictionary.
c) Nouns in set expressions used without an article.
1. out of doors — на дворе, на улице, вне дома
The children spent most of the time out of doors.
2. to take to heart — принимать близко к сердцу
Don’t take things too much to heart.
3. to take offence — обижаться
If he had heard your remark, he would have taken offence.
4. to give (to get, to ask) permission — дать (получить, просить) разрешение
I asked permission to keep the book a little longer.
5. to lose heart — терять мужество, приходить в уныние
Не found the subject very difficult at first, but he did not lose heart.
6. at present — в настоящее время
He went on working hard and finally mastered it. You may go home, we don’t want you at present.
7. from morning till night — с утра до вечера
Не worked in his little garden from morning till night.
8. from head to foot — с головы до ног
She was dressed in furs from head to foot.
9. from beginning to end — с начала до конца
The whole story is a lie from beginning to end.
10. at first sight — с первого взгляда
Не fell in love with her at first sight.
11. by chance –случайно
They met quite by chance.
12. by mistake — по ошибке
I have brought the wrong book by mistake.
13. for hours — часами
Не could read for hours.
14. for ages — целую вечность
I have not seen you for ages.
15. by land, by air, by sea — cyшей, по воздуху, морем
I like travelling by sea.
16. to go to sea — стать моряком
My sister wants to be a doctor, and my brother wants to go to sea.
17. on deck — на палубе
We spent hours on deck.
18. to keep house — вести хозяйство
Her sister keeps house for her.
19. at sunrise — на рассвете
We left the town at sunrise.
20. at sunset — на закате
We arrived at the village at sunset.
21. at work — за работой
Whenever I come, he is always at work.
22. at peace — в мире
We want to be at peace with all
23. by name — по имени
His cat, Snowball by name, was
playing on the carpet.
24. in debt — в долгу
Mr. Micawber was always in debt.
d) The use of articles with predicative nouns.
As stated above a predicative noun is used with the indefinite article if the speaker states that the object denoted by the noun belongs to a certain class.
If a predicative noun is modified by a particularizing attribute, the definite article is used.
He is the student you wanted to speak to.
If a predicative noun denotes a post which can be occupied by one person at a time, either no atricle or the definite article is used.
Mr. Henderson is manager, not under-manager any longer. (Lindsay) Montanelli was director of the theological seminary at Pisa. Comrade N. is the dean of our faculty.
No article is used with predicative nouns after the verbs to turn, to commence, to appoint, to elect.
Compeyson turned traitor.
Компейсон стал предателем.
Shakespeare commenced actor.
Шекспир начинал как актер.
They appointed him head-teacher.
Его назначили старшим преподавателем.
A predicative noun sometimes has an adjectival character, especially when it is followed by the adverb enough. In this case no article is used.
Surely Bolla isn’t fool enough to believe that sort of stuff?
Неужели Болла настолько глуп, чтобы поверить подобному
When a predicative noun in an adverbial clause of concession is placed at the head of the clause, no article is used.
Child as he was, David understood that Creakle was an ignorant man Хотя Давид был ребенком, он понимал, что Крикль — невежественный человек.
The nouns son and daughter used predicatively take the definite article when modified by an of phrase, though there may be several sons and daughters in the family.
Lomonosov was the son of a fisherman. Becky Sharp was the daughter of an artist.
e) The use of articles with nouns in apposition.
Nouns in apposition and nouns forming part of an apposition are used with the indefinite article if the speaker states that the object expressed by the noun in apposition belongs to a certain class.
I want to introduce you to Comrade В., a great friend of mine.
In the plural no article is used.
I want to introduce you to Comrades B. and D., great friends of
Nouns in apposition or nouns forming part of an apposition are used with the definite article if they are modified by a particularizing attribute.
Comrade В., the student you have mentioned, has come.
If the noun denotes a well-known person or work of art, the definite article is generally used.
Pushkin, the great Russian poet, died in 1837.
Hamlet, the immortal tragedy by Shakespeare, was written in the
first years of the 17th century.
But if the person or the work of art is not widely known the indefinite article is used.
Pericles, a comedy by Shakespeare, is hardly ever staged.
No article is generally used with a noun in apposition when the apposition expresses a post which can be occupied by one person at a time. Occasionally the definite article is used.
Professor Petrov, director (the director) of the Medical Institute, is going to deliver a lecture.
Comrade Smirnov, dean (the dean) of the English department, has left for Moscow.
Class nouns used in address take no article. Come downstairs, child. (Voynich)
g) Place of the article.
The usual place of the article is before the noun if it is not modified by an attribute; if the noun is modified by an attribute, the article is placed before the latter. However, there are cases when the article follows the attribute.
1. The definite article follows the attribute expressed by thepronouns both, all.
Both the stones were interesting. All the stones were interesting.
2. The indefinite article follows the attribute expressed by an adjective after so, too, as.
Mr. Pickwick could not resist so tempting an opportunity of
studying human nature. (Dickens)
You compel me to tell you that this is too serious a matter to
be treated in such a fashion. (Dreiser)
It was as black a house inside as outside. (Dickens)
3. The indefinite article follows quite, such, what (what in exclamatory sentences).
She is quite a child.
I’ve never heard of such a thing.
What a wonderfu’ piece of luck!
The indefinite article either precedes or follows rather.
This enquiry envolved the respected lady in rather a delicate
They stop and interchange a rather heated look. (Dickens)
h) Ways of expressing the meaning of the English articles in Russian.
The meaning of the English article may sometimes be expressed in Russian by means of:
Pour the water into the glass.
Налейте воду в стакан.
Pour some water into the glass.
Налейте воды в стакан.
(b) word order.
A woman came up to me and asked what time it was. Ко мне подошла женщина и спросила, который час. The woman has come. Женщина пришла.
(c) the words один, какой-то, какой-нибудь (the indefinite article), этот, тот самый (the definite article).
A man is waiting for you downstairs.
Вас внизу ждет какой-то человек.
Do you know Nina? Yes, I do. I like the girl immensely.
Вы знаете Нину? Знаю. Мне очень нравится эта девушка.
Special difficulties in the use of articles.
a) The use of articles with the nouns day, night, morning, evening.
The nouns day, night, morning, evening are used without articles:
(a) if day und morning mean ‘light’ and night and evening mean ‘darkness’, or if they denote a certain part of the day.
The sun had gone and night had come. (Abrahams)
Day is meant for work, night for sleep.
It was evening. The river was before them. (Dreiser)
(b) in the expressions by day. at night, from morning till night. It is easier to work by day than at night.
The definite article is used when these nouns are modified by a particularizing attribute or when the situation makes them definite.
He will never forget the day when he met her. The night was warm and beautifully still. (Voynich)
The definite article is also used in the expressions: in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening.
The indefinite article is used when the noun is modified by a descriptive attribute.
I spent a sleepless night.
When the nouns morning and evening are modified by the adjectives early and late, no articles are used because these adjectives do not describe the morning or night, but only show the time.
It was early morning when the train pulled into the little siding. (Abrahams)
b) The use of articles with names of seasons.
Names of seasons are used without articles if they show a certain time of the year.
It was spring. I like spring.
The definite article is used when these nouns are modified by a particularizing attribute or when the situation makes them definite.
It happened in the spring of 1930, The spring was cold and rainy.
The indefinite article is used when these nouns are modified by a descriptive attribute.
It was a cold spring.
When names of seasons are modified by the adjectives early or late, no articles are used.
It was early spring.
c) The use of articles with the nouns school, college, bed, prison, jail.
The nouns school, college, bed, prison, jail are used without an article when they lose their concrete meaning and express the purpose for which the objects denoted by these nouns serve.
When these nouns denote concrete objects the articles are used according to the general principle.
(a) School, college.
to be at school |
> to be a schoolboy (schoolgirl)
to go to school
to be at college — to be a student of a college to leave school — to finish or drop one’s studies
School begins at five.
She went to College in the North. (Gow and D’Usseau)
His history since he left school had been indicated in the last
It was at seventeen that he decided to leave school.
to go to the school — not as a pupil (the building is meant)
to leave the school — to leave the building
Mother went to the school yesterday to attend a parents’ meeting.
She left the school at 7 o’clock.
She worked at a school in Siberia.
to go to bed — ложиться спать
to be in bed — лежать в постели
And now you had better go to bed. Good-night. (Voynich)
to be in the bed
> an article of furniture is meant
to be on the bed
Her portrait was on the wall beside the bed. (Voynich)
(c) Prison, jail.
to be in prison (in jail) — to be a prisoner
to be sent to prison
> as a prisoner
to be put in prison
Mr. Dorrit was in prison many years. Mr. Dorrit was sent to prison for debt.
The last they had heard of him was that he was in jail for having killed a person in a fight. (Abrahams)
to be in the prison
>not as a prisoner (the building is meant)
to go to the prison
Mr. Dorrit’s family lived in the prison.
The prison proper dated from 1822. (Dreiser)
d) The use of articles with the noun town.
The noun town when used with prepositions does not take an
(a) when we mean the nearest town (if we live in the country) or the town we liv.e in.
You cannot go to town to-morrow. (Austen) What can you have to do in town…? (Austen)
(b) when the noun town is opposed to the noun country.
He was not used to country life, having spent twenty years in town.
Otherwise the noun town is used with the definite or indefinite article.
I want to go to the town where I was born.
e) The use of articles with the names of meals.
Names of meals are used without articles.
When did you have dinner?
Is dinner ready?
Mother is cooking dinner.
While they were at breakfast, the letters were brought in. (Austen)
I have finished breakfast, ring the bell. (Ch. Bronte)
The definite article is used when the nouns are modified by a particularizing attribute or when the situation makes them definite.
The dinner we had to-day was very substantial. The dinner was a success.
The indefinite article is used if the name of a meal is modified by a descriptive attribute.
After a hearty breakfast the four gentlemen sallied forth to walk to Gravesend. (Dickens)
f) The use of articles with names of languages.
Names of languages when they are not followed by the noun language are used without articles:
She knows English.
Note the peculiar use of the definite article in: (1) It is a translation from the English (the French, etc.), (2) What is the English (the French, etc.) for ‘сосна’?
The definite article is used if the noun is modified by a particularizing attribute:
The English of America differs from the English of England.
When the noun language is mentioned the definite article is used: the English language, the German language.
Use of articles with nouns modified by certain adjectives, pronouns and numerals.
(a) Most + adjective.
The definite article is used when most serves to form the superlative degree of an adjective.
This is the most interesting chapter in the book.
The use of the indefinite article shows that a high degree of a quality is meant. Most has the same meaning as very, exceedingly.
Caroline found that the old maid had been a most devoted daughter and sister. (Ch. Bronte)
Note — Occasionally the form of the superlative degree does not express comparison, but a high degree of a quality.
He listened with the most profound attention. He listened with the deepest attention.
The same phenomenon is found in Russian:
Он слушал с глубочайшим вниманием.
(b) Most + of + noun.
When definite people or things are meant the noun is used with the definite article and most is followed by the preposition of.
Most of the flowers in the garden were planted by the schoolchildren.
Most of the gentlemen looked both angry and uncomfortable. (Voynich)
We say most, not most of the, when we do not mean definite people or things. The noun is used in a general sense.
Most flowers smell sweet.
b) Few, a few, the few; little, a little, the little.
Few means ‘мало’, it has a negative meaning.
A few means ‘несколько’, it has a positive meaning.
The few means ‘те немногие (которые)’.
He was a very good man. There are few like him in the world to-day. (Abrahams)
He left after a few moments. (Dreiser)
You need not fear to hear the few remaining words we have to say. (Dickens)
Little means ‘мало’, it has a negative meaning.
A little means ‘некоторое количество’, it has a positive meaning.
The little means ‘небольшое количество (которое)’.
We can’t go skiing to-day. There is too little snow.
We have a little time. Let us take a walk in the garden.
Don’t waste the little time you have.
c) Two, the two; three, the three, etc.
Two means ‘два’.
The two means ‘оба, те два’.
Two students entered the room.
The two friends travelled together.
The two books you lent me proved very interesting.
d) The second, a second.
The second is an ordinal numeral meaning ‘второй’.
The second attempt proved more successful than the first.
A second means ‘another, one more’. Having eaten the gruel, Oliver asked for a second portion.
In the third, a third, the fourth, a fourth, etc. we see the same difference in meaning.
He made an experiment which proved his theory. He made a second, a third, a fourth experiment with the same results.
A second time means ‘once more’.
I rang the bell, but nobody answered it, so I had to ring a second time.
e) Another, the other.
The pronoun another has two meanings:
(a) ‘какой-либо другой’.
Give me another pen, I don’t like this one.
(b) ‘еще один’.
I am thirsty; 1 should like another cup of tea. The other means ‘определенный другой’. There are two books here, take one and I’ll take the other.
f) Last, the last.
Nouns modified by the adjective last are always used with the definite article except in the expressions last month, last year, last week, last summer (winter, autumn, spring).
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