De and het serve the same function as the in English. What makes it tricky is that there are no simple rules for determining if a word is a de word, or a het word. Needless to say all native Dutch speakers knows really well where to use them de/het, but lets try to make some sense of it all. Here are a few tricks to help us out along the way.
1. The first clue is that around 80 percent of Dutch words are de words. If you really aren’t certain, just stick with de. If you chose the wrong one, it’s okay. More often than not, if you make a de/het error, you will still be understood.
2. The second clue and i think most important is that, all plural words are always de words. All the time. No exceptions.
Examples (keep your eye out for spelling changes with plurals here):
het huis = de huizen [the house(s)]
het jaar = de jaren [the year(s)]
het restaurant = de restaurants [the restaurant(s)]
de stoel = de stoelen [the chair(s)]
de kat = de katten [the cat(s)]
de tafel = de tafels [the table(s)]
If you are really very curious about de and het words, there are resources available that go into even more complicated rules for determining whether a word is de or het. I don’t recommend doing it unless you want a headache :). But over time, with lots of practice, you’ll start to develop a smallde/het understanding as well.
Do leave your comments and suggestions.