When to use the (with singular nouns)
If a noun is singular, it MUST have a determiner. For example, I like dog [X]; either I like your dog [✔] or I like dogs [✔]. The definite article should only be used when you can say:
"There is only one [noun]."
The examples below illustrate different use cases for 'the'.
- A dog came up to me. I pat the dog.
- You can say: "There is only one dog that just came up to me" (in the current context).
- The Gini coefficient is an economic term.
- You can say: "There is only one Gini coefficient" (because it is a name).
- Please note that, if the name is a proper noun, such as London, it generally does not have 'the'. However, this is not always the case, such as The Pacific Ocean.
- I visited the hospital where I was born.
- You can say: "There is only one hospital where I was born" (based on the information provided).
- The major is a very generous man.
- You can say: "There is only one major of whichever town the speaker is from" (based on information that is implied).