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Which one?

- Articles
a) When to use “the” – when we both know which one
When both the person speaking and the person listening know which one because:
1. We have already talked about it. Eg: “I bought a book. I went home. I read the book.”
2. The sentence explains which one. Eg: “Do you remember the movie that we saw on Tuesday?”
3. We understand which one from the context. Eg: “Close the door.” (the door in this room)
4. There is only one. a) Eg: “The sun was hot.”
b) Superlatives: Eg: “The tallest student in this class.”
b) When to use “a” – when one of us doesn’t know which one
1. With a single, countable noun, when the person speaking
or the person listening doesn’t know which one.
Eg: “I saw a movie.” (I know which movie, but the person listening doesn’t know)
2. When we are describing something as one of many.
Eg: “Peter is a doctor” (There are many doctors. Peter is one of them)
Note: When we are describing things as some of many, we use nothing (ø)
Eg: “Andy and Tim are students.” (There are many students.
Andy and Tim are two of them)
c) When to use “some/any” – when one of us doesn’t know which ones
We use “some” instead of “a” for: Some or Any?
1. plural countable nouns Positive I have some tea.
Eg: Some people came to visit. Negative I don’t have any tea.
2. uncountable nouns Questions Do you have any tea?
Eg: They drank some beer. Exceptions:
Requests Could I have some tea?
d) When to use nothing (ø) Offers Would you like some tea?
1. With proper names. Eg: “Lucy was surprised.”; “Australia is big.”
2. When we are talking about something in general we usually use:
ø + plural countable noun. Eg: “I like action movies.”; “Cats have tails.”
or: ø + uncountable noun. Eg: “I like apple juice.”; “Milk is white.”
3. When we are describing things as some of many Eg: “Melbourne and Sydney are cities.”
(There are many cities)
e) Exceptions
1. We use “the” for musical instruments, oceans, seas, rivers, mountain ranges, hotels, and newspapers.
Eg: “I can play the piano.” (= I can play pianos in general. but we say “I bought a piano.”)
“Japan is in the Pacific.”; “The Himalayas are in Asia.” “I’m at the Hyatt.”
2. We use nothing for:
Meals – breakfast, lunch dinner
Eg: “I had lunch.” “I made dinner.”
Some places – home, in bed.
Eg: “I went home. I stayed at home. I was in bed”
– work, school, university, hospital, prison
Eg: “I went to work.”; “I was at school.”;
“I was at university.”; “I was in hospital.”;
“I was in prison.”; “We’re going to church.”
Some times – night, holiday
Eg: “I like to go walking at night.”;
“I met him when I was on holiday.”
Some ways of travelling – by bus, by tram, by train, by car, by plane, on foot.
Eg: “I come to school by tram”;
“I went there on foot.”
Note: Countries have proper names, so we use ø. Eg. “Vietnam is in Asia.”
But sometimes we describe countries with other words (not just proper names).
Eg: “The Republic of Vietnam”
Q – Which republic? (There are many republics) A – of Vietnam. (Vietnam is a proper name)