The Article

A/an, the, no article – the use of articles in English

Article — is an official word used in English before nouns. There are two articles – the definite article – the and the indefinite article – a/an.

The Definite Article

With a noun, if we are talking about some specific object, which is clear from previous context or experience, or if this object is unique in its kindOpen the window, please
With a noun preceded by an adjective in the highest degree of comparisonThis is the most expensive ring in the shop
With a noun preceded by an ordinal numeralLet’s discuss the second topic
Before nouns denoting objects that are single and unique in their kindThe sky is clear today
Before nouns, which mean not a separate subject, but the whole class or category as a wholeThe poor never support the rich
Before surnames in the plural, if we are talking about all family membersThe Browns have got a very comfortable house.
With the names of oceans, seas, channels, rivers, bays and lakes (if the word lake is not used with the name of the lake, but only its name is indicated)The Mississippi is a river in the USA.
With the names of countries, if they include the words state, kingdom, federation, republic, unionthe United States of America
With the names of groups of islands and mountain rangesthe Carpathians
With the names of cinemas, theaters, museums, concert halls, galleriesthe Royal Opera House
With the names of organizations and political partiesthe Democratic Party
In some fixed phrases:

to play the piano, to go to the cinema / theatre, the other day, to tell the truth.

And also usually after the words one of, some of, many of, most of, each of

You should try to tell the truth to your friends.

The Indefinite Article

The indefinite article has two forms:

a is used before words that begin with a consonant sound (a peach)

an — used before words that begin with a vowel sound (an orange, an hour)

The indefinite article a/an is used only with singular countable nouns

With a noun that is mentioned in the sentence for the first time, and when no specific object or person is meantShe has got a fashionable dress
Before a singular countable noun in the grammatical construction there is/was/will beThere is a pan on the stove
Before a singular countable noun after the words what, such, quite, rather, rather in exclamatory sentencesWhat a funny cartoon!
In some fixed phrases:

to go for a walk, to be in a hurry, for a long time, to have a look, to have a rest

I need to have a rest as soon as possible
Often used in the sense of “one”, especially before nouns denoting timeWait a second, please
Before the names of professions and positions, if they are mentioned in general, and no specific person is meantHe is a chief manager

 

Zero Article

If the noun is preceded by a pronoun (possessive, indicative, interrogative) or pronouns some, any, no, each, everyThey play rugby every day
Before abstract uncountable nouns and nouns denoting the names of substances, if they are at allWater is tasteless
If the singular noun would be preceded by the indefinite article a/an, then the plural noun should not be preceded by an articleHer brothers are pupils. (Her brother is a pupil)
Before a noun, if it is an address to a person or personsCan you hear me, girls?
Names of days of the week, months, and seasons are usually used without articles. Except for cases when we are talking about a specific date or period and it must be emphasizedMonday, on Sunday in summer, in September але: the winter of 2017 (підкреслюється саме зима 2017)
If the noun is followed by a quantitative numerallesson fifteen
With names:

  • foreign languages (if there is no word language)
  • sports, school subjects
  • countries, continents, cities, streets, parks, airports, train stations
  • mountains, islands, lakes (if the name contains the word lake)
  • diseases
  • by their own names
English, Ukrainian, French; football, chemistry;

Poland, New York, Oxford

Street;

Elbrus, Lake Michigan;

allergy, chicken pox:

Andrew, Mykola, Elizabeth

In newspaper and magazine headlinesOil price smashes $50 mark
In some fixed phrases:

at night, by train, by mistake, to take place, to go to bed, from time to time, to go home

They went home two hours ago

For a general understanding of the use of articles, read the general scheme.

References

  1. The Basics of Article Usage in English: “A,” “An,” and “The”. https://www.aje.com/arc/editing-tip-basics-article-usage/
  2. Чіміріс Ю.В. Довідник у таблицях. Англійська мова. 7 – 11 класи. 2018. – 32 ст. 

 

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