By: Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar
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There are only two types of articles in the English
1. Definite article; “the” and
2. Indefinite article; “a”/ “an”.
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In a broad sense, an article is a type of adjective that
gives information about a noun.
Definite Article: the
Indefinite Article: a / an I use
It depends on what kind
of noun is being modified.
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Kinds of Nouns
• Nouns are generic, indefinite, or definite.
• Nouns are count or noncount.
• Nouns are singular or plural.
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A generic noun represents a whole class of
It is not a specific, real, concrete thing, but
rather a symbol of a whole group.
Examples of Generic Nouns:
A bird has wings.
A horse has four legs.
An apple is red.
1/3/2009 Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar
USING A or Ø: GENERIC NOUNS
SINGULAR COUNT NOUN a) A banana is yellow.
b) Ø Bananas are yellow.
PLURAL COUNT NOUN
NONCOUNT NOUN c) Ø Fruit is good for you.
A speaker uses generic nouns to make generalizations.
In a) & b): The speaker is talking about any banana, all bananas,
bananas in general.
In c): The speaker is talking about any and all fruit , fruit in
No article is used to make generalizations
with plural count nouns, as in b), and with
noncount nouns, as in c).
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Indefinite nouns are actual things (not symbols),
but they are not specifically identified.
Examples of Indefinite Nouns:
There is a table in the room.
I ate an apple.
The girl was wearing a hat.
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Singular I ate a banana.
Plural count noun I ate some bananas.
(two, a few, several)
Noncount noun I ate some fruit.
(a little, a lot of)
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USING A or SOME: INDEFINITE NOUNS
SINGULAR COUNT NOUN a) I ate a banana.
PLURAL COUNT NOUN b) I ate some bananas.
NONCOUNT NOUN c) I ate some Fruit.
the speaker is not referring to “this banana” or “that
banana” or “the banana you gave me”.
The speaker is simply saying that he ate one banana.
The listener does not know nor need to know which
specific banana was eaten.
It was simply one banana out of that whole group of
things in the world called bananas.
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In b) and c):
Some is often used with
indefinite plural count nouns and
indefinite noncount nouns.
In addition to some, a speaker
might use two, a few, several, a
lot of, etc., with plural count
nouns, or a little, a lot of, etc.,
with noncount nouns.
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A noun is definite when both the speaker and
the listener are thinking about the same specific
Examples of definite Nouns:
Thank you for the apple you gave me.
I love to look at the moon.
The food I ate last night made me sick.
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The banana I ate this morning was
I got the apples from the tree.
Noncount The fruit from that market is
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USING THE: DEFINITE NOUNS
SINGULAR COUNT NOUN a) Thank you for the
PLURAL COUNT NOUN b) Thank you for the bananas.
NONCOUNT NOUN c) Thank you for the Fruit.
The speaker uses ‘the’ because the listener knows which
specific banana the speaker is talking about, i.e., that particular
banana which the listener gave to the speaker.
‘the’ is used with both singular and plural count nouns
Notice: and with noncount nouns.
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1. Indefinite Articles: a and an
Use a and an when the noun is indefinite and
The rule is:
•a + singular noun beginning with a consonant: a boy
•an + singular noun beginning with a vowel: an elephant
•a + singular noun beginning with a consonant sound: a
user (sounds like 'yoo-zer,' i.e. begins with a consonant
'y' sound, so 'a' is used)
•some + plural noun: some girls
If the noun has an adjective, follow the same
BUT use the first letter/sound of the adjective:
•a broken egg
•an unusual problem
•a European country (sounds like 'yer-o-pi-an,' i.e.
begins with consonant 'y' sound).
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2. Definite Article: the
The definite article is used before singular
and plural nouns when the noun is specific.
INDEFINITE vs. DEFINITE
(a or an) (the)
•a dog •the dog
(any dog) (that specific dog)
•an apple •the apple
(any apple) (that specific apple)
•some dogs •the dogs
(any dogs) (those specific dogs)
•some apples •the apples
(any apples) (those specific apples)
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is not used with noncountable
nouns referring to something in a
general (indefinite) sense:
• [no article] Coffee is a popular drink.
• [no article] Japanese was his native
• [no article] Intelligence is difficult to
The is used with noncountable nouns
that are specific:
• The coffee in my cup is too hot to drink.
• The Japanese he speaks is often heard
in the countryside.
• The intelligence of animals is variable
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Do not use the before: XXXX
names of countries Arabia
names of cities, towns, or states
names of streets
names of lakes and bays
names of continents
names of islands
Do use the before: √√√√
names of rivers, oceans and seas
points on the globe
names of deserts, forests, gulfs,
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