The meaning

thē before a vowel; thə before a consonant
The is defined as an article and is used before a noun to specify, or put emphasis on, that noun.

An example of "the" is saying that a particular bird is blue.

article
26
5
Used before a present participle, signifying the action in the abstract.

The weaving of rugs.

definition article
19
8
That (one) which is present, close, nearby, etc., as distinguished from all others viewed as remote.

The day is starting out warm; the heat is oppressive.

adjective
9
3
That (one) designated or identified, as by a title.

The President (of the U.S.), the Mississippi (River)

adjective
8
3
To that extent; by that much. Used before a comparative.

The sooner the better.

adverb
8
4
Advertisement
That (one) being spoken of or already mentioned.

The story ended.

adjective
6
2
Beyond any other.

Enjoyed reading the most.

adverb
5
2
That (one) belonging to a person previously mentioned or understood.

Take me by the hand; rub into the face.

adjective
4
1
That (one) considered outstanding, most fashionable, etc.

That's the restaurant in town.

adjective
3
2
Used before a singular noun indicating that the noun is generic.

The loggerhead turtle is an endangered species.

definition article
2
2
Advertisement
Used before an object considered to be unique, or of which there is only one at a time. [from 10th c.]

No one knows how many galaxies there are in the universe.

God save the Queen!

article
1
0
A prepositional phrase.

The hit of the week.

adjective
0
0
An infinitive phrase.

The right to strike.

adjective
0
0
A participle.

Follow the directions given.

adjective
0
0
One taken as the representative of the entire genus or type.

Learn to use the typewriter; the cow is a domestic animal.

adjective
0
0
Advertisement
An adjective used as a noun.

The good, the beautiful, the true.

adjective
0
0
That much; to that extent.

The better to see you with.

adverb
0
0
By how much . . . by that much; to what extent . . . to that extent.

The sooner the better.

adverb
0
0
To each; in each; for each; per.

At five dollars the half ton.

preposition
0
0
Definite grammatical article that implies necessarily that an entity it articulates is presupposed; something already mentioned, or completely specified later in that same sentence, or assumed already completely specified. [from 10th c.]

I'm reading the book. (Compare I'm reading a book.)

The street in front of your house. (Compare A street in Paris.)

The men and women watched the man give the birdseed to the bird.

article
0
0
Advertisement
With a superlative, it and that superlative refer to one object. [from 9th c.]

That apple pie was the best.

article
0
0
Introducing a term to be taken generically; preceding a name of something standing for a whole class. [from 9th c.]
article
0
0
Used before an adjective, indicating all things (especially persons) described by that adjective. [from 9th c.]

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.

article
0
0
Used to indicate a certain example of (a noun) which is most usually of concern, or most common or familiar. [from 12th c.]

No one in the whole country had seen it before.

I don't think I'll get to it until the morning.

article
0
0
Used before a body part (especially of someone previously mentioned), as an alternative to a possessive pronoun. [from 12th c.]

A stone hit him on the head. (= “A stone hit him on his head.")

article
0
0
Advertisement
When stressed, indicates that it describes an object which is considered to be best or exclusively worthy of attention. [from 18th c.]

That is the hospital to go to for heart surgery.

article
0
0
With a comparative or more and a verb phrase, establishes a parallel with one or more other such comparatives.

The hotter, the better.

The more I think about it, the weaker it looks.

The more money donated, the more books purchased, and the more happy children.

It looks weaker and weaker, the more I think about it.

adverb
0
0
With a comparative, and often with for it, indicates a result more like said comparative. This can be negated with none.

It was a difficult time, but I'm the wiser for it.

It was a difficult time, and I'm none the wiser for it.

I'm much the wiser for having had a difficult time like that.

adverb
0
0
Used before a noun with the force of per .

Cherries at $1.50 the box.

definition article
0
1
One specified period of time, esp. a decade.

The Dark Ages, the seventies.

adjective
0
1
Advertisement
That (one) who has a specific family relationship to one.

The wife, the kid sister.

adjective
0
1
An attributive adjective.

The front door.

adjective
0
1
A relative clause.

The man who answered.

adjective
0
1

Origin of the

  • Middle English from Old English alteration (influenced by th- oblique case stem of demonstrative pron.) of se masculine demonstrative pron. so- in Indo-European roots
    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
  • Middle English from Old English thȳ, thē instrumental of thæt neuter demonstrative pron. to- in Indo-European roots
    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
  • From Middle English, from Old English þē (“the, that", demonstrative pronoun), a late variant of sÄ“ (“that, the"). Originally masculine nominative, in Middle English it superseded all previous Old English forms (sÄ“, sÄ“o, þæt, þā), from Proto-Germanic *sa (“that"), from Proto-Indo-European *só, *to-, *tód (“demonstrative pronoun"). Cognate with West Frisian de, dy (“the, that"), Dutch de, die (“the, that"), Low German de, dat (“the, that"), German der, die, das (“the, that"), Danish den (“the, that"), Swedish den (“the, that"), Icelandic það (“that").
    From Wiktionary
  • From Middle English, from Old English þȳ (“by that, after that, whereby"), originally the instrumental case of the demonstratives sÄ“ (masculine) and þæt (neuter). Cognate with Dutch des te ("the, the more"), German desto ("the, all the more"), Norwegian fordi ("because"), Icelandic því (“because").
    From Wiktionary