I am confused why we always use article The even though it is general. For example

1) He can master THE English language (even general statement)
2) The goverment can impose THE goods and services tax to increase the national revenue (even though it is general)
3) Reducing taxes can decrease THE unemployment rate (despite General statement)


  • 1
    Using the has nothing to do with being a "general statement" or not. You use the to indicate that the noun phrase it determines has already been mentioned, or is believed by the speaker to be obvious to the listener. So the English language is known to the listener, as are the ... tax and the ... rate. Jun 13, 2018 at 17:59
  • @JohnLawler What about here – the example with fingers? Is the used because everyone has fingers? (I've excluded the generic meaning because CGEL (Quirk et al.) says generic NPs aren't normally used with plurals.)
    – user3395
    Jun 13, 2018 at 18:06
  • But i see people using the even though it is mentioned for the first time and it is unknown to the listener Jun 13, 2018 at 18:11
  • 1
    @ShahidanShaari You should ask a new question about that when you encounter such usage (the doesn't have to function as a determiner either, but it can, and it might just be idiomatic in such cases).
    – user3395
    Jun 13, 2018 at 18:12
  • 1
    @userr2684291: the fingers is used for the same reason as the strings. Everybody has fingers, and every guitar has strings, and these are known to the listener. Jun 13, 2018 at 18:26


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