English as a Second Language/English Article


I have some clarifications to seek regarding the use of the article in English. Here they are:
1. Why does the quote go 'the child is father of the man' ( not 'the father' going by the logic of subsequent specification as suggested by 'of')?
2. 'The use of the article in the English language is complex'--is this sentence right?
3. In writing a letter is it right to specify the official position of a person with 'the' as in 'the manager', 'the general manager', 'the director', etc.?
4. we say 'the young people', 'the Roman empire', and so on because 'young' and 'Roman' in these examples are supposed to play the specifying function. If this right, why do we then say 'old age' and 'life at sea' and drop 'the' in these and other such cases?
5. As the president of my club if I issue a notice should it be addressed to 'Members of Club' or 'the members of the Club'? In other words, can 'the' be dropped in a familiar situation as perhaps a headmaster will do when he writes 'no student will be allowed to enter School after lunch'?
I wait for your response.

Hi Chodipatti,

I picked up your question from the question pool and I'll try to clarify things for you.

1. William Wordsworth wrote "The child is father of the man" in one of his famous poems - The Rainbow. The meaning behind the phrase: all our traits (good or bad) are established in our youth, when we are kids. It's a poetic expression, so even if it's unacceptable by today's grammar norms, if you read it with Woodsworth intended meaning in mind, you'll see that it makes sense.

My heart leaps up when I behold
A Rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

2. Yes the sentence is correct.

3. I'd definitely specify the position, particularly if it's an official letter

4. It's not that you have to always say 'the young people'. Here is an example:
Young people can be quite rebellious.
You don't have to use 'the' as the statement is a general one, it doesn't involve any young people in particular.
'life at sea' actually means a type of life so I don't see the reason for using an article in front of it
'old age' - same thing, it's not something that requires the use of the definite article; it means the large number of years in someone's life

5. I'd go for "THE Members of the Club" but if the context is less formal, I guess you can drop the article.

Hope the above answers are helpful.


Amy Baker

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker


I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.


I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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