Q. 24.5( 26 Votes )

Using the Definite Article with Names

You know that the definite article ‘the’ is not normally used before proper nouns. Nor do proper nouns usually occur in the plural. (We do not say: *The Nelson Mandela, or *Nelson Mandelas). But now look at this sentence from the text:

…..the decades of oppression and brutality…… produced the Oliver Tambos, the Walter Sisulus,……….of our our time.

Used in this way with the and/ or in the plural, a proper noun carries a special meaning. For example, what do you think the names above mean?

Choose the right answer.

(a) for example Oliver Tambos, Walter Sisulus,……..

(b) Many other men like Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu……/many men of their type or kind, whose names may not be as well known.

Did you choose option (b)? Then you have the right answer.

Here are some more examples of ‘the’ used with proper names. Try to say what these sentences mean. (You may consult a dictionary if you wish. Look at the entry for ‘the’).

1. Mr. Singh regularly invites the Amitabh Bachchans and the Shah Rukh Khans to his parties.

2. Many people think that Madhuri Dixit is the Madhubala of our times.

3. History is not only the story of the Alexanders, the Napoleans and the Hitlers, but of ordinary people as well.

Answer :

Articles: A, an and the are Articles. They come before nouns.

There are two types of Articles.

1. Indefinite Articles (a, an)

2. Definite Article (the).

Indefinite Articles – (a, an): ‘An’ is used before a word beginning with a vowel sound and ‘a’ is used before a word beginning with a consonant sound – i.e.:

A boat, a cow, a dog, a fan, a goat, a hen, etc.

An ass, an inkpot, an elephant, an orange, an umbrella, etc.

Note: Some words begin with vowels but they sound like a consonant so ‘a’ should be used before that.

Some words begin with consonants but sound like a vowel, so ‘an’ should be used there.

For example, A one rupee-note.

An honest man.

Definite article: ‘The’ is used before some particular person or things, books, oceans, rivers, etc.

1. In the first sentence, used of ‘the’ before Amitabh Bachchans and Shah Rukh Khan means that Mr. Singh invites all the big stars of film industry to his parties.

2. In the second sentence, use of ‘the’ before Madhubala means Madhuri Dixit has been compared with Madhubala in beauty and quality.

3. In the third sentence, use of ‘the’ before Alexandors, Napoleans and Hitlers means that there are many people like Alexandor, Napolean and Hitler in history.

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