In the 1 year and 115 days I've been running this blog so far, I've used the word the 5,509 times, constituting about 6.0% of all my words. You'd think such a large sample size (over 91,000 words) would be an accurate representation of the English language, but, curiously, the is only used about 4.7% of the time in English. I suppose I have greater need for it, as I'm explaining abstract topics or something. Either way, that's pretty cool. However, despite all that usage, I've never given any glory to the word the. Come to think of it, I can't even define it. It seems I'm not the only one with that problem. A quick Google search for the definition of the word "the" yields several contrasting and obfuscating meanings, and, four results down, an article titled Why 'The' is So Difficult to Define. For the most part, it left me more confused than before, until it rather adeptly summed up the whole word as "a combination of the situations where it is appropriate". Oh, you want an etymology now? The word "the" basically sounded the same since Old English, and before that it was pronounced like sa or so. That's all. As a very simple word, it hasn't changed much.
[Edit 1: In the body of this blog post, I used the word the 17 times, constituting 7.9% of all words. This parenthetical obviously not included in analysis.]
[Edit 2: I was mistaken about the usage of the word the. I used Google Ngrams to approximate, and that led to incorrect results. Frequency is actually about 6.9%, closer to my value though a little above now]
Adam Aleksic is a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University. He also has disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.