Most English speakers recognize three articles: theindefinite articles a and an and the definite article the. Insome cases, no article is used. Articles are problematic because some languages haveno articles, some have only definite articles, and others havethe same articles as English, but their usage doesn’t overlap.Arabic, for example, has a definite article and no indefinitearticle. This language requires the definite articles withabstract nouns and they can be used to refer to a wholegroup or specific things. In Arabic, it’s correct if you say “I’mafraid of the spiders”, while in English it’s not. Let’s analize the articles and the rules for using them:
Indefinite article: A / ANThey are used only before singular count nouns that arenot specific and are being mentioned for the first time. RULE EXAMPLE 1. Before a noun or an adjective (+noun) a feather, a gray feather that begins with a consonant sound 2. Before a noun or an adjective (+noun) an idea, an absurd idea that begins with a consonant sound 3. Before the letters H or U the use of a hat (H with a consonant sound a/an depends on the beginning sound of an hour (H with a vowel sound) the word, not its spelling! a university (U with consonant sound an umbrella (U with a vowel sound)
The definite article THE There are several different situations in which we use the definite article THE in English.RULE EXAMPLE1. When talking about something specifc THE umbrella next to the door is not mine.2. When the listener and the speaker are William, don’t forget to close THEtalking about the same specific item refrigerator3. For the second and all the other James bought a computer last month. THEreferences to the same noun computer lets us access the Internet really quickly.4. With the superlative form (most / -est) In a jewelry store, diamonds are THE most expensive item.
RULE EXAMPLE5. For the names of countries that look THE Philippines, THE Netherlands, THEplural, including countries that end in –S or United States, ThHESoviet Union, Thehave the words united, union, republic or Dominican Republic, THE Republic ofkingdom Angola, THE United Kingdom, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia6. Parts of something (exception: in I went to Mary’s house last night. Hergeneral, we do not use THE for body parts) kitchen is beautiful. THE refrigerator is silver, THE stove is black, and The clock above THE door has really big numbers on it.7. With most bodies of water (except THE Mississippi Riverindividual lakes) THE Pacific Ocean THE Mediterranean Sea THE Great Lakes (but Lake Michigan)8. Geographic parts of the globe and THE equatorgeographic areas, deserts, and peninsulas. THE Middle East THE Gobi Desert THE South
No articleIn English, there are few situations in which we do not use any article with a noun.RULE EXAMPLE1. When you want to talk about a Ø Cats can be great pets.category or group in general2. Before abstract nouns such as feelings A person’s future success depends on Øor ideas education. Ø Patience is a virtue.
Ideas for teaching articles:Like prepositions, articles take a great deal of time to be acquired byELL’s. So here are some suggestions : Before planning a class on articles: check how articles are used within the nativelanguage of your students.Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian, for instance, have no articles. On the otherhand, French and Spanish have definite and indefinite articles, the usage issometimes the same as English, but not always. In these last two languages, it’s okto say “The honesty is important”.At beginning levels, one reason that article instruction is difficult for ELL’s is thatlessons on articles naively present several usages on one or two pages as if theywere just one small issue. Once more, check your students’ native language and tryto antecipate problems they might have throughout the lessons.At intermediate levels, indefinite articles are no longer a problem, but definitearticles might be.At advanced levels, instruction on articles takes place in the form of feedback onindividual expressions or idioms.
TDC 1 – Grammar- Students: Éllen Cintra, Fernanda Oliveira and Patrícia Assumpção.- Teacher: Frank Couto
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