Articles• Articles are a very problematic topic because some languages either differ in usage (French, German and Spanish) or have no articles at all (Chinese, Japanese and Russian).• Most English speakers recognize three articles: indefinites, definites and ‘no article’.
Articles• “The terms definite and indefinite designate meanings associated with the noun that an article precedes.• Definite implies that a noun is specifically identifiable. The use of the definite article, the, therefore, presupposes that the speaker and the listener can identify the noun that follows it. . .• Indefinite means ‘identifiable in general.’ The indefinite article, a/an, occurs when the listener is not expected to be able to identify the object specifically. The listener may know the concept represented by the noun, but that is all.” (Ron Cowan, The Teachers Grammar of English: A Course Book andReference Guide . Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008)
Indefinite Articles• Indefinite articles – a and an – are used only before singular count nouns which are not specific and are being mentioned for the first time.• A raven is a medium-sized black bird.• A tablet serves many purposes.• An igloo is a dwelling that is made of ice.
Definite Article• The definite article ‘the’ can be used in at least 8 situations:• 1. When talking about specific: I have an umbrella. / I liked the umbrella on the shelf.• 2. When the listener and speaker are talking abiut the same thing: Every bedroom has a mattress. / I’m going to buy the mattress we were talking about the other day.
Definite Article• 3. Second and following references to the same noun: Andréa and I had luch at a good restaurant last Friday. The restaurant is at 405 sul.• 4. Superlative forms, with most or –est/iest suffix: Molejo is the best band in the world.• 5. Countries that look plural, ending in –s or have united, union, kingdom or republic: the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Angola.
Definite Article• 6. Parts of something (exception for body parts): I went to my friend’s new apartament last Friday. His living room is awesome. The sofa is huge, the TV is wall-sized and the bar has all kinds beverages.• 7. Bodies of water, except individual lakes: the Mississippi River, the Antlatic Ocean.• 8. Geographic parts and areas of the globe: the equator, the Middle East.
No Articles• There are a few situations in which English we do not use articles.• Problem: In other languages the use of “the” is required and this causes a common ELL error: the overuse of “the”.
No Articles• Rule 1: To talk about a category or group in general. General: Dogs can be a good company. Specific: The dogs in that house are dangerous.
No Articles• Rule 2: No article before abstract nouns such as feelings or ideas. The love is beautiful. (Wrong) Love is beautiful. (Correct)
What ELLs Should Know• Do not use singular count nouns without na article (or other determiner)• Do not use the article “a” with a noun that begins with a vowel sound.• Do not use “the” with a plural count noun that refers to a whole category.• Do not use “the” with abstract nouns or ideas.* These are the most common ELLs mistakes
Articles: Ideas For Teaching• It is important for the teacher to know how articles are used within the native language of the Ss.
Articles: Ideas For Teaching• Beginning level: – Separate lessons on each of the usages. – When teaching singular count nouns , use the articles “a” or “an”. – “the” is used for specific usages. – ”the” or no article for Geographical terms. – No articles for general meaning.
Articles: Ideas For Teaching• Intermediate level: – Focus on the use of the definite article or the no article rules. – Common mistake is the overuse of “the”.
Articles: Ideas For Teaching• Advanced Level: – Here the focus is on individual expressions or idioms – Example: Once upon a time.