Still confused about ''

I have been speaking english for many years, but often I get corrected by friends when I sometimes misuse (or dont use) ‘the’.

First: does anyone here have a good link that describes ‘the’ in detail? It maybe something very silly that just doesn’t get inside my head and I have been making a fool out of myself for may years.

A few questions: please tell me the correct usage below, preferably with a brief explanation.

1. I am speaking with a friend who lives in Boston

a: How is weather in boston?

b: How is the weather in boston?

2. at the DMV

a. I am in the line at the DMV

b. I am in line at DMV

3. I am making a chicken wrap and I ask my friend:

a. Would you like it with hot souce?

b. Would you like it with the hot sauce?


In 1 you would need ‘the’ because you are referring to that weather in Boston. In 2 you would say ‘a’ because you are referring to one queue (as I would say). In 3 there is no need for an article because it is a general reference unless of course you have made reference to the sauce previously and then you would say: the hot sauce.

If it’s of any help, you could look at some material on the articles I have written for the site:

Thanks Alan. The link is very helpful. However, something I read on that page has me confused.

There is an example in “a, an section”: Before a singular noun which is countable when it is mentioned for the first time and represents no particular person or thing.
“A horse is a noble animal.”

Then in “the section”, there is an example: Before singular nouns used to represent a class of objects.
“The donkey is a very obstinate animal.”

This got me confused again. I am still not getting it.

thanks :slight_smile:

This is a difficult one and you could say that there is little difference. The use of ‘a’ in the first example is really a substitute for ‘one’ - with the idea of any old horse you care to mention. The use of ‘the’ with the noun (donkey) lifts the animal out of the ordinary and in a sense elevates it to an important level.

Possibly that helps?


It does.
did some thinking on the sentences and started to make sense.