Quick ESL Writing Lesson: Using THE

This is a quick writing lesson that helps ESL students learn how to use the definite article in their writing.

First, here are five troublesome areas of writing where ESL students have some trouble using THE properly. These five areas come from the Bedford handbook.


PART A Some simple rules.

1.  The noun was already mentioned in a previous sentence.

She is a carrying a bag. The bag is yellow.

2.  The clause that comes after the noun restricts the noun’s identity.

Please pass me the book on the TV.

3.  A superlative

This restaurant serves the best pork chop in the city.

4.  The noun describes a unique person, place or thing.

Did you see the ambulance driving down the street?

5.  The context of the sentence makes the noun identity known to everyone.

It’s cold outside. Please close the door when you leave.

PART B Practice

Look at the ESL writing picture prompt in the attached file.

  1. Put the pictures in the correct order.
  2. Write a story to match the pictures.
  3. Use the word THE by following the rules described above. Use each rule at least one time in the story.


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