Sunday, October 6

5 Basic Techniques for Articles





Articles are short words that we sometimes put in front of Nouns. There are only a few Articles in the English language. In fact, there are only three. They are:



A, An, The



Although very simple and small, Articles are one of the most difficult and confusing topics in English. Many non-native speakers find them hard to use. One of the reasons for this is the absence of Articles in other languages and the very big differences in terms of usage.



In this post, I will try to teach some of the basic techniques to use Articles. You should keep in mind however that the techniques below may not work perfectly all the time. Some of them are real rules, but others are just practical guidelines that can save us a lot of time.



Many learners like you have proven the techniques below to be very effective. I hope you do too.




Count and Non-Count Nouns

Technique #1


Singular Countable Nouns can not stand alone. They must have an Article with them.


Ex.

She likes flower. = X

She likes the flower. = Ok

She likes a flower. = Ok



Plural Countable Nouns may not have an Article with them.


Ex.

She likes flower. = X

She likes flowers. = Ok



Uncountable Nouns may not have an Article with them. 



She likes flower. = X

She likes tea. = Ok




Adjectives vs. Nouns

(Technique #2)



Adjectives are words that describe. Some examples are “tall,” “cheap,” “dangerous,” “wide,” “dark,” etc.



Adjectives can not have Articles in front of them.


Ex.

He is a smart. = X

He is smart. = Ok


It is a hard. = X

It is hard. = Ok


I am a tired. = X

I am tired. = Ok



But Nouns, if they are Singular Count (Technique #1) and Common (Technique #2), must have an Article.


Ex.

I am employee. = X

I am an employee. = Ok


He will buy book. = X

He will buy a book. = Ok


She ate sandwich. = X

She ate a sandwich. = Ok



If you make the combination Adjective + Noun, pay close attention. You are still using a Noun even though an Adjective is in front of it. So, you still need to put an Article.


Ex.

I am good employee. = X

I am a good employee. = Ok


He will buy expensive book. = X

He will buy an expensive book. = Ok


She ate delicious sandwich. = X

She ate a delicious sandwich. = Ok




Common Nouns vs. Proper Nouns

Technique #3



There are 2 kinds of Nouns: Common Nouns and Proper Nouns.



A Common Noun is not the name of an exact person, place, or thing. On the other hand, a Proper Noun is the name of an exact person, place, or thing.



A Proper Noun also starts with a capital letter.



Here are some examples of each:


Common Nouns

Proper Nouns
cat
Robert
motorcycle
Japan
hotel
Christmas
couch
Toyota
room
Starbucks
man
Mcdonald’s
company
Fleet St.
street
Manchester United
hamburger
Paris
building
Facebook



Common Nouns usually need an Article in front of them. Proper Nouns often don’t come with any Articles



Article
(Yes)
Common Nouns


Article
(No)
Proper Nouns

a +


an +


the +
cat

Robert
motorcycle
Japan
hotel
Christmas
couch
Toyota
room
Starbucks
man
Mcdonald’s
company
Fleet St.
street
Manchester United
hamburger
Paris
building
Facebook




Names of Countries

Technique #4



Most countries in the world don’t have the Articlethe” in front of their names. This is because the names of countries are Proper Nouns.


Ex.


Korea, Japan, Africa, America, Spain, India, Mexico etc.



But a few countries need the Articlethe” in their names. It is good to remember which countries they are.


Ex.


the Philippines, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the Gambia etc.



For a list and a detailed explanation, please read:






First Mention vs. Second Mention

Technique #5



Unlike all the techniques above, this last technique is about how to use “a / an” or “the.”



We call “a” and “anIndefinite Articles, while we call “theDefinite Article. As some of you might know, we use these 2 kinds in different situations.



The skill of knowing whether to use “a” / “an” or “the” in one situation is hard to learn. It will take a long time and a lot of practice.



If you are ready to go deeper on the topic of Articles, just read:








When we are telling a long story or a long sentence, we can have more than 1 Noun. In this case, it’s necessary to choose whether to add “a” / “an” or to add “the.”



One of the basic rules in this difficult situation is to use “a” / “an” when you mention a Noun for the first time. This is because you are just introducing the Nouns in the mind of the listener or reader. You should use an Indefinite Article first.


Ex.


I saw 5 foreigners in the bar. There was a German, a Mexican, an Italian, an American, and an Australian.



I ate a big breakfast. I ate an apple, a PBJ sandwich, a pancake, and a rice ball.



But if you mention the same person or thing the second or third time etc., you can use the Definite Articlethe” because it’s already clear in the mind of the listener or reader who or what you mean. In short, the Noun (person, place, or thing) has already become exact.


Ex.


I saw 5 foreigners in the bar. There was a German, a Mexican, an Italian, an American, and an Australian. The German was tall, the Mexican was short, the Italian was pretty, the American was confident, and the Australian was handsome.



I ate a big breakfast. I ate an apple, a PBJ sandwich, a pancake, and a rice ball. The apple was fresh, the sandwich was terrible, the pancake was sweet, and the rice ball was tasty.




Hope You Learned Something!

Keep on learning !









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