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‘The’ Problem

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Jan 14


Today’s ‘The Times of India’ has an interesting article on overusing ‘the’.
In all my years of training, I have noticed that participants use ‘the’ where it is not required and omit it where it is required. Most of the time, ‘the’ is placed before each and every noun making the sentence meaningless and long.

The rule is pretty simple. Use ‘the’ when you are being specific about the noun. For example, ‘The proposal you sent me did not have the sales figures.’ In this sentence we all know which proposal we are talking about. It is a specific proposal that was sent to me, so it is a specific noun.
Now look at this sentence. ‘Send me a proposal immediately to get necessary approval’. Here I am not specific about the proposal. I need one proposal to get the approval.

Using ‘the’ when it is not needed takes away the impact of what you are saying. It also shows that you are not sure about its usage.

Here is a quick recap of the rules for using ‘the’:
1. Use for musical instruments. ‘I love to play the guitar’.
2. Use for non-count nouns when you are being specific. ‘The milk has gone bad;.
3. Use for names of rivers, ocean, seas, deserts, forest, gulfs, peninsulas and points on the globe. ‘The Indian peninsula lies in the northern hemisphere.’
4. Use for things that are unique. ‘The stars shine in the sky.
5. Use for books that are one-of-its-kind. ‘The Bible is a holy book.
6. Use for superlatives. ‘She is the best employee.’

The next time you begin typing ‘the’, just check if it is really needed there.

Posted by : Sharmila Gautama

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