Skip to content

Skip to table of contents

Definite article

Definite Article

A grammatical term for a part of speech used in some languages. Its use varies greatly from language to language. The English definite article “the” is used to restrict the meaning of a noun, to point to a specific person or thing, or to indicate that someone or something has previously been mentioned or is well-known; it may even be used for emphasis.

Koine Greek has the definite article (ho), which in some respects is the equivalent of the English definite article. The Greek definite article may be used to restrict the meaning of a noun to refer to a specific person or thing. For example, the Greek word di·aʹbo·los, rendered “slanderer,” is often used with the definite article, making it refer to a specific being, the Devil (ho di·aʹbo·los, meaning “the Slanderer”). Sometimes the definite article is used with the title “Christ” (ho Khri·stosʹ) and rendered “the Christ”; this construction evidently emphasizes Jesus’ office as the Messiah. The Greek definite article changes form, depending on gender, number, and case. At times, it may provide information on whether the noun is used as a subject or an object, whether a name is masculine or feminine, and so forth. Certain forms of the Greek definite article require the addition of a preposition, such as “of” or “to,” when rendered into English and other languages.

If a noun has no article in Koine, it may, depending on the context, be rendered with an indefinite article or as an adjective. For example, when the Greek word di·aʹbo·los is used without the article, it may be translated “a slanderer” or “slanderous.” (Joh 6:​70; 1Ti 3:​11; Tit 2:3)​—For more information on the Greek definite article, see The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, Appendix 7B, “Features of Biblical Greek​—the Article.”