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Using Articles (#3), by Dennis Oliver

 

Using English Articles (#3)

 

 

Because the English articles (a, an, the) are often very
challenging for learners of the language, the next several
Hints will provide guidelines on their usage.

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The Definite Article The (#1)

 

 

The definite article the is used in several different ways
in English.

One use is with nouns (singular or plural, countable or
uncountable) that are specifically identified because the
listener or reader knows (or can assume) that only
one
specific noun is being talked or written about:

Are my keys in the car?

(The speaker / writer assumes that the
listener / reader knows which car is being
referred to.)

John can't hear you. He's in the shower.

(John can be in only one specific shower.)

Are the children asleep yet?

(The writer / speaker is referring to
specific children; the listener knows
which children he / she means.)

Evita's son is in the first grade.

(Evita's son can be in only one specific
first-grade class.)

He's not telling the truth.

(There is only one truth.)

Could you check the oil, please.?

(The speaker is asking someone to check
the oil in one specific car--probably the
he or she is driving.)

I'll see you the day after tomorrow.

(Only one specific day is after tomorrow.)

Is someone at the door?

(We can assume that only one specific
door is being referred to.)

Francisco is the tallest student in the class.

(Only one student can be the tallest.)

Is the coffee ready yet?

(A specific pot of coffee is being referred to,
not any pot of coffee.)

The stars are very bright tonight.

(Specific stars--the stars that we can see--
are being referred to.)

It's hard to believe that men have walked on the moon.

(In this sentence, the speaker / writer is
referring to one specific moon: the moon
that revolves around the earth.)

The banks are closed today.

(The speaker / writer assumes that the
listener / reader knows which banks are
being referred to--probably all the banks
in a specific city.)

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Next: more on articles.

 
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