I read an article that states that the definite article "the" is an adjective before nouns
and is an adverb before superlative adjectives
the best player
What is its type (part of speech) in this sentence:
I have the red pen.
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The text you read is incorrect and misleading. When used as an article, the word the is never an adjective (nor an adverb either).
It is simply an article, full stop. That is its part of speech. It does not describe a noun. It determines a noun.
In the case of a noun phrase involving an adjective in the superlative degree, that leading the is unaltered in its function: it remains determinative of its noun. The superlative adjective is a red herring.
The classic model of English I grew up with divided everything into 8 parts of speech:
Nouns (things, places, objects)
Pronouns (take the place of a noun)
Adjectives (modify nouns)
Adverbs (modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs)
Conjunctions (connect constituents, phrases, or clauses)
Prepositions (placed before a noun and express a relation)
Interjections (single word phrases that express exclamation or a conversational flow disruption)
Using this model, articles are adjectives, because they modify nouns.
the definite article "the" is an adjective before nouns (the ball) and is an adverb before superlative adjective (the best player)
The "out of date" 8-parts-of-speech-model is good to get someone working with English who is learning it--either someone who doesn't natively speak the language or a native speaker who isn't aware of the concepts.
However everything in English does not neatly fit in those 8 categories--in particular, adverbs tend to be a "throwaway" category, there's no talk about words that straddle between noun and verb ("verbals"), and things like the notion of determiners is an important one in English.
But even with the "out of date" classical model above, this is wrong. The always "modifies" a noun. It doesn't just modify the next word after it. Think of this sentence:
I ate the spicy hot food.
Spicy tells you an attribute about food. It does not modify hot just because it comes right before hot. I ate the hot spicy food means the same exact thing.
The text you read is correct. The OED gives "the" as an adjective, a determiner (Determiners are a specialised subset of adjectives) and as an adverb.
The: A. adj. Definite article (determiner).**
I. Referring to an individual item (or items).
Marking an item as having been mentioned before or as already known, or as contextually particularized (e.g. They escaped in a car. The car was later found abandoned or I had some in a jar but it all leaked out through the lid.
It also has the entry:
1.a. Used with a following comparative adjective or adverb to emphasize the effect of circumstances indicated by the context. The circumstances are sometimes expressed by a phrase introduced by for, e.g. he is much the better for it, he looks the better for his holiday.
See also all adv. 7a, none adv. 1b, so adv. and conj. 39d,
1883 Law Times 27 Oct. 425/1 What student is the better for mastering these futile distinctions?
1938 Manch. Guardian 8 Mar. 8/1 This record is the more remarkable when we remember the defective eyesight by which..Dr. Garvie has been handicapped.
2014 K. Fforde Christmas Feast 289 She wouldn't really be any the wiser.
All words have some meaning or inflect other words with meaning.