I often write sentences which start with the word "The" like:

The reference to Michele Foucault is important to understand MA because of three major aspects: …

I do not really like the phrasing and wonder if I use it because of my German background. Hence, my question is: Is it ok to use "The" at a beginning of a sentence? If so, is it common or uncommon to use "The" at the beginning of a sentence? Which more elegent sentence structures exist which do not need the article at the beginning?

  • 2
    The construction is perfectly valid.
    – Chenmunka
    May 6, 2015 at 10:14
  • 6
    The is one of the most common ways to begin a sentence.
    – user230
    May 6, 2015 at 10:17
  • 1
    It is often extremely hard for many EFL speakers of certain languages to get a good handle on English article usage ("the", "a/an"). In your specific example, the article "the" can't be replaced by the article "a". The use of "A reference to Michele" wouldn't work there for that sentence. It's also extremely difficult to fully explain the proper usage of the articles "the" and "a" w.r.t. to when one is appropriate and the other is not. :)
    – F.E.
    May 6, 2015 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


There's no problem in using the definite article to begin the sentence. I mean there's no rule I have ever come across that refrains us from doing this.

In fact, as snailboat says, it is one of the most common ways to begin a sentence.


The answers on this site are really useful! The thing I like the most on this site is its format. The best thing I could do to improve my English is to ask a question here. The native speakers on ELL will answer them precisely. The answers they write teach me a lot; (and finally!) The comment is getting longer here.

  • If you came across such a rule, would you heed it, knowing as you do how English works? ;)
    – user6951
    May 6, 2015 at 13:44

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