Ø We usually use “zero article” before the names of particular people.


- President Clinton is to make a statement later today.

- The name of Nelson Mandela is known all over the world.

Ø However, we use “the”:

1) When there are two people with the same name and we want to specify which one we are talking about.

Example: That’s not the Stephen Fraser I went to school with.

2) When we want to emphasize that a person is the one that everyone probably knows.

Example: Do they mean the Ronal Reagan, or someone else?

3) With an adductive to describe a person or their bob.

Example: the late (=dead) Buddy Holly, the artist William Turner, the Aboriginal writer Sally Morgan, the wonderful actor Harrison Ford.

4) When we talk about a family as a whole.

Example: The Robinsons are away this weekend. (= the Robinson family)

Notice that “a/an” or sometimes “zero article” is used with a name to mean that someone else has or does not have the particular excellent qualities of the person named.

Example: Jane plays tennis well, but she’ll never be (a) Steffi Graf.

Ø We use “zero article” when we talk about institutions such as hospital, university, school, college, or church being used for their intended purpose: medical treatment in hospital, studying in university, and so on.


- Nara goes to school every morning. (= go to study)

- Janne is in hospital now. (= he is ill)

NOTE: We use “articles” when we talk about them as particular place or building. And when we talk about this “bed” is the same use.


- She usually stays in bed late at the weekend. (= sleep)

- ‘Have you seen my socks?’ ‘You left them on the bed. (= a particular place)

5) When we talk about cinema, opera or theater in general, or when we refer to a building where this type of entertainment takes place, we use “the.”


- I try to go to the cinema at least once a week. (= cinema in general)

- We usually go to the cinema in New Street. (= a specific cinema)

NOTE: If we are talking about a form of art, we generally prefer “zero article.”

Example: Not many children enjoy opera. (rather than…enjoy the opera.)