Typical ELL Errors• Articles are problematic because some languages have no articles (Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Vietnamese).• Some languages have only the definite article (Arabic).• Others have the same articles as English but their usage does not overlap exactly (French, German, Spanish).
Typical ELL ErrorsNoticing the gap:• “Every family dreams about comfortable and luxurious house.”• “After reading this book, I can understand the nouns and the verbs much better. I still need help with the adjectives.”
INDEFINITE ARTICLES• We use the indefinite articles a and an only before singular count nouns.• We use a and an with singular count nouns that are not specific and are being mentioned for the first time.• E.g.; A penguin is a small black and white bird. An igloo is a dwelling that is made of ice.
Indefinite Articles: a, anRules:• Use a before a noun or an adjective that begins with a consonant sound. • e.g.; a feather, a gray feather.• Use an before a noun or an adjective that begins with a vowel sound. • e.g.; an idea, an absurd idea.
The Definite Article the• There are several different situations in which we use the definite article the in English.• 1) Something specific: • e.g.; The umbrella next to the door is not mine.• 2) Listener and speaker talk about the same specific item: • e.g.; Bob, don’t forget to close the window.• 3) Second and all references to the same noun: • First reference: Julia and I bought a car last week./Second reference: The car is very comfortable.
The Definite Article the• 4) Superlative form of an adjective; • e.g.; In a jewelry store, diamonds are the most expensive item.• 5) Names of countries that look plural, including – s or have the words united, union, republic, or kingdom. • e.g.; the Philippines, the United States, the Netherlands.
The Definite Article the• 6) Parts of something (except for body parts). • e.g.; I went to Paul’s flat yesterday. His living room is awesome. The curtains are great and the sofa is really big and comfortable.• 7) Most bodies of water except individual lakes. • e.g.; The Pacific Ocean, The Mississippi River, The Mediterranean Sea, The Great Lakes (but Lake Michigan).
The Definite Article the• 8) Geographic parts of the globe and geographic areas, deserts, and peninsulas. • e.g.; The equator, the Middle East, the Gobi Desert, The South.
No Article In English there are a few situations inwhich articles are not used with a noun.
No ArticleRules:• 1) Talking about a category or group in general. • E.g.; Dogs are wonderful pets.• 2) Before abstract nouns such as feelings or ideas. • E.g.; A person’s future success depends on education (not on the education).
What ELLs Should Know• 1) Do not use a singular count noun without a article (or other determiner). • A job, an apple, the reason• 2) Do not use a with a noun that begins with a vowel sound. • An hour, an heir, an honorable colleague
What ELLs Should Know• 3) Do not use the with a plural count noun that refers to the whole category. • I don’t trust politicians. They are an ornery bunch of people.• 4) Do not use the with abstract nouns or ideas. • Education is the most important thing in my life.
Native Language InterferenceArabic:• Has a definite article;• Requires the definite article with abstract nouns;• Refers to the whole group;• Has no indefinite article.
Native Language InterferenceChinese; Japanese; Korean; Russian:• These languages have no articles; Overuse of this and that in lieu of articles.• ELLs who speak these languages exhibit persistent errors with articles.
Native Language InterferenceFrench; Spanish:• Have definite and indefinite articles.• The definite article is used for specific things and also to refer to a whole group.• The definite article must be used with abstract nouns.
Native Language InterferenceFrench; Spanish:• Indefinite articles are not to be used when talking about professions.• Both these languages have plural forms of the articles.