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Articles

Concept: Revise Articles

What is an Article?

  • Articles are words that are used to point at something specific or general. So, they work both as adjectives and determiners.
  • Articles are words that help to define a noun as unspecific or specific.
  • Article ‘the’ is used to point at something specific.
  • The articles ‘a’ and ‘an’ are used to mean something or anything in general.

Example:

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In the first example, ‘a’ pen refers to any pen.
In the second example, ‘the’ pen refers to one particular pen that is on the table.

Types of Articles

There are two types of articles.

A) Definite Article

In English, the only definite article is the word ‘the’. A definite article has several forms.
A definite article is used for unique things or groups. It can indicate that something is unique and there is only one.

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Example:

  1. The moon was shining brighter. (The earth only has one moon)
  2. We sailed on the Indian ocean. (There is only one Indian ocean)
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B) Indefinite Articles

There are two indefinite articles a and an. ‘A’ is used before consonant or consonant sounds, and ‘an’ is used before vowels or vowel sounds.

1.Indefinite articles are used to refer to things that aren’t unique.

Example:

  1. Riya is a doctor (Riya is just one of the many doctors in the world)
  2. Japan is a country. (Japan is one of many countries)

Article Before an Adjective

Sometimes an article changes a noun that is also changed by an adjective. The word order goes like this:
article + adjective + noun.
If the article is indefinite, choose ‘a’ or ‘an’ depending on the word that follows it immediately.

Example:

  1. Ishaan will bring a foreign marker pen to the class.
  2. I watched an interesting movie yesterday

Using Articles with Pronouns

Possessive pronouns can help to determine whether you are indicating something specific or nonspecific. However, if you use both a possessive pronoun and an article simultaneously, it becomes confusing. Articles should not be used with possessive pronouns.

Example:

Why are you using the my pen?
‘The’ and ‘my’ are never used together as they both change the same noun. Instead, you should use either of them depending on what the sentence wants to convey.

Examples:

  1. Why are you using the pen?
  2. Why are you using my pen?

Article Rules in English Grammar

Rule 1:
The choice between the two indefinite articles ‘a’ and ‘an’ – is determined by sound. Words beginning with consonant sounds precede ‘a’ and words beginning with vowel sounds precede ‘an. There are some special cases also.

Example:

  1. a university, a useful book, etc.
  2. a one-dollar note, a one-man army, etc.

Rule 2:
Sometimes indefinite articles are used to refer to the number ‘one’, ‘each’, ‘per’.

Example:

  1. I saved a thousand in my piggy bank. (One thousand rupees)
  2. I have a doll. (One doll)

Rule 3:
Indefinite articles often precede descriptive adjectives.

Example:

  1. She is a good girl.
  2. What a nice car!

Rule 4:
A singular common noun always requires an article ‘a’ or ‘an’, but a plural common noun does not require or can have ‘the’ to specify the noun.

Example:

  1. I saw an eagle.
  2. I saw an eagle in a zoo.
  3. I have seen the eagle.

Rules for Definite Article: The

There are certain rules to be followed while using the article ‘the’.
Rule 1:
Article ‘the’ is used to refer to a particular person(s) or thing(s) in the case of common nouns. Proper nouns generally do not take an article.

Example:

  1. The man is walking. (A particular man)
  2. I saw the boy running./li>

Rule 2:
Sometimes ‘the’ is used to speak about a quality that is generalized by a group/whole class.

Example:

  1. The dog is a faithful animal. (Refers to the whole species of dog.)
  2. The English are industrious. (Refers to the people of England as a nation)

Rule 3:
Article ‘the’ is used for the nouns that cannot be counted.

Example:

  1. The water in the Himalayas is freezing.
  2. Three thieves stole all the money from the house.

Rule 4:
Article ‘the’ is mandatory before a thing that is only one of a kind in the universe.

Example:

  1. The moon is shining bright.
  2. The earth moves around the sun.

Common Mistakes

Articles are not used with uncountable nouns or possessive pronouns. Certain nouns like subjects in a school or nationalities and sports don’t need articles, especially when denoting abstract ideas.

Exceptions

  1. ‘A’ is used before a consonant, and ‘an’ is used before a vowel. Sometimes it does not depend on the letter but on the sound that comes after the article.

    Example:

    1. I am waiting for an hour.
    2. I need a unique plan.

    In the first sentence, the word ‘hour’ starts with a consonant ‘h’ yet it is following an article ‘an’. This is because the letter ‘h’ in the word ‘hour’ is silent.
    In the second example ‘a’ is used before the word ‘unique’. This is because the word ‘unique’ starts with a consonant sound ‘y’ and is pronounced as ‘yuni:k’

  2. Using ‘the’ with geographical points on the globe.
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