When to use ‘The’ and when to leave it out for things in general

Students often make article errors when talking about ‘things in general’. When talking generally about things the article tends not to be used.

Hong Kong citizens love the mobile phones
People are generally polite in Hong Kong (not The people)


Meet Hong Kong's 'tutor kings and queens'

Read the following passage about Hong Kong’s Tutor Kings and Queens and select The if it is necessary in the drop-down list (1) – (10). After you have done that, listen to the recording and see if you were right. Click on the Answers Button below for explanations of the correct answers after you have listened.

Listen to the recording : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20496462


1. (x) Hong Kong is  a country name that contains no definite article.  For further information on country name and use of articles go to the following link http://elc.polyu.edu.hk/cill/exercises/Articles_Geography.aspx

2. (The) Here we are referring to a particular city, Hong Kong, previously mentioned.

3. (The) Here we are referring back to particular teachers, employed by Richard

4. (x) Here we are talking about a general concept or idea – ‘university’.  The same applies to hospital, college, church, prison or university

5. (The) Here , ‘glitzy  marketing’  refers to the particular type of marketing associated with Mia’s job.

6. (x) in town’ is a fixed expression in English, part of a group of expression where the article is dropped after a preposition (others are at lunch, for breakfast, on foot)

7. (The) Here, we are talking about particular exams for entering university, e.g. The Secondary Diploma exams.

8. (x) Here, we are talking about degree courses in general.

9. (The) Here we are referring to the particular tutors who work in these kinds of centres.

10. (The) Here, the speaker is referring to the particular school that a student taking extra lessons might be going to.

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