November 21, 2018
By Sarah Zegarra

Lesson plan

Definite Article: 'The' with Geographical Nouns

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Students will be able to distinguish when to use the definite article "the" with certain geographical nouns.

(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to define nouns and name a few examples.
  • Write the following nouns on the board and ask students to use them in a sentence. Record student responses next to the word.
    • "England"
    • "McGuire road"
    • "moon"
    • "Mississippi River"
    • "United States"
    • "Empire State Building"
  • Notice if students placed the definite article "the" in front of the last four nouns, but not in front of the first two. Ask them to consider how they knew when to place "the" in front of the nouns or not. (Note: some may say that it sounds weird with or without "the.")
  • Explain to students that for many non-native English speakers, when to use "the" or not can be confusing. Tell them that today we are going to discover some of the rules for the use of the definite article "the."
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that the word TheIs a Definite articleThat must be used with certain nouns. It is appropriate to use "the" in front of singular and plural nouns that are specific and particular.
  • With some nouns, it is correct to not place "the" in front of it, leaving the noun alone.
  • Tell students that today we will discover when to use "the" and when to not use it.
  • Inform students that some types of geographical terms require the article "the" before it while others don't.
  • Write the following title on a chart paper: "Geographical Nouns to Use with The."
  • Write the following subtitles/categories on the chart paper, leaving space below each subtitle to add examples:
    • "Mountain ranges"
    • "Rivers, oceans, and seas"
    • "Geographical areas"
    • "Points on the globe"
    • "Deserts, forests, peninsulas, and gulfs"
    • "Names of well-known buildings"
    • "Some countries" (i.e., the United Kingdom, the Philippines, the Bahamas)
    • "Special nouns of which there are only one" (i.e. moon, sun, earth)
  • Invite students to name a few examples of each category. Assist them if they need help.
(10 minutes)
  • Model writing some sentences using these nouns. A few examples could be:
    • "I was lucky enough to ride a ferry on the Nile River last year."
    • "The Transamerica Building is my favorite building in San Francisco."
    • "The weather is very dry in the Sahara Desert."
  • Discuss other geographical nouns which do not require "the" before them such as streets, cities, most countries, lakes, and continents. Record some examples on a separate piece of chart paper. Ask students to use some of these examples in complete sentences.
  • Distribute copies of the worksheet The Desert to each student.
  • Show the worksheet on the document camera. Read the text aloud to students and then call on student volunteers to underline the parts when "the" is used in front of a geographical noun and when it is not used (i.e., South America—a continent).
(10 minutes)
  • Hand out lined paper to students or ask them to take out their journals.
  • Instruct students to write five sentences with the examples of nouns that require "the" in the chart and five sentences with nouns that Do notRequire "the" before them.
  • Walk around the room and monitor student writing.
  • Instruct students to read their sentences to a partner to peer edit them when they are finished.


  • Allow students to work in partners or small groups to come up with sentences together during the Independent Work Time.
  • Provide visuals to go with the geographical proper nouns used in the Guided practise portion of the lesson.


  • Invite your advanced students and early finishers to write a paragraph using some of the sentences they wrote.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell students you will read the following sentences, and they are to show a thumbs-up if the sentence is correct or a thumbs-down if it is incorrect. Ask students to fix the sentences that are incorrect.
    • "I think we need to turn right on the Becquer Street."
    • "His dream was to visit the Andes Mountain range."
    • "What time does sun set today?"
    • "My cousin Priscilla studied abroad in the Australia."
    • "I was quite impressed by the Leaning Tower of Pisa."
    • "Plenty of elves live in the North Pole."
    • "Doctor Smith works in Amazon Rainforest."
    • "Last month, there was a powerful hurricane in Gulf of Mexico."
(5 minutes)
  • Inform students that one of the main ways for them to continue familiarizing themselves with the proper use of "the" is to read daily. For the purpose of exposure to geographical terms such as those in this lesson, it is helpful for them to read plenty of nonfiction texts.
  • Have students go to the classroom or school library to choose a nonfiction text that will have some examples of the geographical terms from this lesson for them to read in the next grammar lesson.

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