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Using  the and  a  / an

The definite article the refers to a specific object or specific objects.  

 The may be used anytime you can use this, that, these, or those.
 The may be used anytime you can use possessive demonstratives.

The (this) bird is a sparrow. 

The (that) bird is a hawk. 

The (these) birds are pigeons.

The (those) birds are eagles.

The (our) birds are worm eaters..

The (your) birds are seed eaters.

The (my) bird is a parakeet. 

The (their) birds are canaries. 

The indefinite article a / an  refers to one, or to a a general category of objects.

 A / an may be used any time you can use "one" or "any." 
 Some may be used when you can use a general plural form.

A bird makes a good pet. 

Some birds make good pets.

A (any) bird eats many times every day.

Some birds live in cages.