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Published by: Aleksandra Sasha Jovic on Sep 27, 2013
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Article usage - the basic rules: Basically, the rules for using articles in English are quite simple

: * The definite article shows that a noun is being used in a "defined" or restricted context. * When a noun is used in a non-defined or "generalizing" context, in some cases an indefinite article is required, in others no article at all.
I bought a pair of shoes. I saw a movie last night. They are staying at a hotel. I think The man over there is very unfriendly. I do not like X basketball. That is the problem I told you about. The night is quiet. Let's take a walk! The price of gas keeps rising. John traveled to X Mexico. Juan is X Spanish. I read an amazing story yesterday. My brother does not eat X chicken. X love is such a beautiful thing. I live in an apartment. The apartment is new. I would like a piece of cake. I was in a Japanese restaurant. The restaurant served good food. Sara can play the guitar.

1. The Definite Article How simple English is !! There is only one definite article, and that is "the"; the only difficulty is knowing when to use it, and when it is not needed. Use of the definite article depends on the nature or type of noun that is being used. As in other languages, nouns in English can be divided into two distinct categories, called: count nouns and non-count nouns. ► Count nouns are nouns referring to items that can be counted, for example: One car, two pencils, three people, four guitarists, five hotels etc. These nouns can be used in the singular or the plural In the singular, count nouns must The dog is happy. (or This dog is happy, etc: but not: Dog is happy ) I'm reading the book you gave me. In the plural, they may require a determiner, depending on context. 2. The Indefinite Article

few. an apple. Concrete objects and items can be counted. so good! That is relatively simple to follow. plural nouns refering to non-specified entities are generalisations. for example: one man. The word "some" is occasionally said to be a plural indefinite article.) By definition. a and an a is used before nouns starting with a consonant or a semivowel an is used before nouns starting with a phonetic vowel Examples: a dog. therefore need no article. eternity. four cars.English has two indefinite articles. things that cannot be put in the plural. anger. depending on the circumstances. Look at these . concepts or substances. five shirts. this easy distinction does no take into account all nouns.. So far. psychology. etc. two women. b) Look! I can see an elephant over there ! (= a non-identified elephant) There is no indefinite article in the plural. but a university (because the word university starts with phonetic [ju]. abstractions. The Problem: The problem is that there are a lot of nouns that are either count nouns or non-count nouns . alcohol. an uncle. oxygen. It's the train (= specified) for London. Examples: a) There's a train (= unspecified) coming in 5 minutes. They are used when a count noun in the singular refers to a non-specified or non defined entity. water. Non-count nouns are nouns that refer to generalisations. they are generalisations. in their count noun form or value their meaning is restricted or slightly different. and so on. seven sisters. an orange. concepts and abstractions cannot. six computers..are nouns that refer to things that can be multiplied or counted. which is not a vowel). a cat. In their non-count form or value. for example. politics. but really it is a quantifier (like many. three children. But unfortunately.. heat. Definition : Count nouns .sometimes called "countable nouns" . and so on. Indefinite articles can only be used with count nouns.

examples: We all like beer. my table. they must be introduced by a determiner. If the noun you want to use can be either a count noun or a non count noun. the first time the noun is use with a non-count generalising value. there are the questions of determiners (articles. or functioning as one. or if it is a non-count noun. two articles (the) and two demonstrative determiners (this and that). one table. count nouns and non-count nouns are not used in the same way. etc. heat. beer.) and quantifiers ► Count nouns must have a determiner of some kind in the singular. it is essential to know whether the noun you are going to use is a count noun. but the air in this room is very unpleasant. for example we could never say There are two different airs in these two rooms. this table. Radiators should produce heat. they require a determiner if they are used with a restricted value. but the second time these nouns are used they have the restricted value of count nouns: for this reason. To start with. since this may determine how you express your sentence. but in the plural. in the examples. the heat from that radiator. The reason is simple. the determiners are a numeral (three). air. no determiner if they are used as generalisations. or functioning as a count noun. so let's order three beers. etc. Examples in the plural . It is context that will usually indicate whether a noun is a count noun or a non-countnoun. you must decide which value you wish to give it in a given context. The fact that some nouns can have either a non-count value or a count value does not always mean that we can actually count them! Abstractions cannot usually be put in the plural. three beers. but never just "table". the air in this room. but the heat from that radiator is minimal ! In the examples above. Air is vital for life. Usage: When writing or talking English. Examples in the singular you can say a table.

few / a few. and any. (This does not mean the same!) There wasn't any food left in the house. the quantifiers to use are much.You say "tables" (or "all tables") if you mean all tables in general. few/little. ► Non-count nouns do not have a determiner in the singular. (And remember. They are not used in the plural. Examples in context: Usually. little / a little. etc. if you are referring to just certain tables. non-count nouns cannot be used in the plural!) There wasn't much water left. In cases where non-count nouns are used with a determiner. . (Obviously. some and any depends on whether a noun is a count noun or a non-count noun. tables have flat surfaces. Few animals escaped from the forest fire. For example: This oxygen is contaminated. With count nouns in the plural. but the buses in London are enormous. Buses are big vehicles. Quantifiers with count and non-count nouns: The choice of certain quantifiers such as much/many. but "the tables" or "these tables". this is because they are being used with a restricted or count value. and some*. (This does not mean the same!) The old man was found by some children. but the tables in this café don't. With non-count nouns in the singular. A few animals escaped from the forest fire. Example: Oxygen is essential for life. There was little food left in the house There was a little food left in the house. but not all tables. *Some is replaced by any in negative and interrogative contexts. the quantifiers to use are many. quantifiers cannot be used with count nouns in the singular!) Many people speak English..

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