about things in general — to talk about all books, all people or all life, for example. The never means ‘all’. Compare:
- Did you remember to buy the books7 (= particular books which I asked you to buy)
Books are expensive. (NOT The books are expensive. We are talking about books in general — all books.)
I’m studying the life of Beethoven. (= one particular life)
Life is hard. (NOT The life …. This means ‘all life’.)
‘Where’s the cheese?’ I ate it:’
Cheese is made from milk.
Could you put the light on?
Light tra vets at 300,000 km a second.
- A baby deer can stand as soon as it is born.
A child needs plenty of love.
We can also use the with a singular countable noun in generalizations (but not with plural or uncountable nouns — see 1 above). This is common with the names of scientific instruments and inventions, and musical instruments.
- Life would be quieter without the telephone
The violin is more difficult than the piano.
- I prefer the mountains to the sea I hate the rain
Would you rather live in the town or the country?
We usually go to the seaside for our holidays.
I like lying in the sun(shine). I like the noise of the wind.