Use of Articles A/The

1. We use the to refer to nouns that have already been mentioned or when it is obvious what particular thing is being referred to.

We are sorry to receive your letter of October 30 informing us of an error in carriage changes. The error was due to an incorrect entry in our records which has now been rectified.
The letter hasn?t arrived yet.
It takes 45 minutes to get to the airport from our office.

Therefore the refers to things which are definite, specific or unique:

As the focal point for trade traffic throughout region, Dubai is the gateway to commerce in the Middle Fast.
2. The is not used before a noun when the noun refers to something general and unspecific and is uncountable or plural.
Time is money.
Industry needs good graduates.
Consultants specialise in giving advice.
She works in banking
Microchips are used to make computers
Banks provide firms with finance.
3. We use the to refer to organisations such as
    the police
    the army
    the fire brigade
    the civil service
    the Inland Revenue
4. We use the to refer to unique institutions
The World Bank
The United Nations
The White House
The Stock Exchange
The Kremlin
Abbreviation that have to be pronounced as single letters take the (e.g. the BBC, the CIA).
If the abbreviation can be said as a word the is omitted (GATT, ARAMCO, EFTA, TASS, UNIDO, etc.)

5. Countries and Nationalities. The is used to refer to people belonging to nation

the Dutch
the Irish
the Portuguese
the Bulgarians
the Russians
the Poles
the Ukrainians
6. Plural names of countries, geographical areas or island groups
the Caribbean
the Netherlands
the Far East
the Pacific
the United Arab Emirates
the Seychelles
As do the countries that include "kingdom" or "states"
the United Kingdom
the United States
7. The is not used before most countries, cities and places
But note: The Hague, the City, the West end (of London)

Other uses of the

8. We also use the to refer to categories of things

The pound is a strong currency.
The fax machine is useful office equipment.
Very often, an adjective is used with the to make a category or social group
the rich, the poor, the unemployment, the well-known
Note. These expressions are plural. However a singular noun also can define category of people: the sole trader, the venture capitalist, etc.

9. In nouns groups with the word "of", the is compulsory

the bank of England
the Board of Directors
the President of KPN
the level of productivity
10. We use the in superlative expressions, where noun is, by definition, unique
Axa is the biggest European insurance company.
The isn?t used in the following cases

11. The is omitted before certain "places" used for their routine purpose

He?s at work.
He left college two years ago.
12. The is not used with personal names

13. The is omitted before means of transport (with by)

    Come/go by (bus / car / train / plane)
Note. A particular train, flight, plane is used with the.

14. The is not used before the names of meals, unless a particular meal is referred

have breakfast
at tea
before lunch
stay for dinner

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1999. Compiled by Yuri Demchenko.