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Using English Articles (#12), by Dennis Oliver 

Using English Articles (#12)

 

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.

_____________________________

When Not
to Use Articles
(#1)

 

 

There are also situations in which no articles are used:

1.  

In general, do not use articles before names
of people:

not this:


but this:

 

*The Dave Sperling created
this website in 1995.

Dave Sperling created this
website in 1995.

     

not this:


but this:

 

*The Mary Seurat was
a
well-known painter.

Mary Seurat was a
well-known painter.

     
2.  

In general, do not use articles before a title
and a name:

not this:


but this:

 

*The Professor Schulte
will lecture at 11:00 AM.

Professor Schulte
will lecture at 11:00 AM.

     

not this:


but this:

 

*The Prince Philip is the
husband of the Queen Elizabeth.

Prince Philip is the husband
of Queen Elizabeth.

     
3.  

In general, do not use articles before
one-word names of countries):

not this:

but this:

 

*The Oman is a Gulf state.

Oman is a Gulf state.

     

not this:


but this:

 

*The Argentina is located
in South America.

Argentina is located
in South America.

     
4.  

Do not use articles before the names of bodies
of water which have Lake or Pond as part of
their names:

not this:


but this:

 

*The Lake Mweru is partly
in Zaire and partly in Zambia.

Lake Mweru is partly
in Zaire and partly in Zambia.

     

not this:


but this:

 

*Isn't the Lake Okeechobee
in Florida?

Isn't Lake Okeechobee
in Florida?

     

not this:


but this:

 

*How long did Thoreau live
at the Walden Pond?

How long did Thoreau live
at Walden Pond?

     
5.  

Do not use articles before the names of
mountains or volcanos which have
Mt. (Mount) as part of their names:

not this:


but this:

 

*The Mt. Hood is visible
from Portland, Oregon.

Mt. Hood is visible
from Portland, Oregon.

     

not this:


but this:

 

*Pompeii was destroyed
when the Mt. Vesuvius erupted.

Pompeii was destroyed
when Mt. Vesuvius erupted.

     
6.  

In general, do not use articles before the names
of educational institutions when the names
begin with a proper noun:

not this:


but this:

 

*She attended the St. Olaf's
College in Minnesota.

She attended St. Olaf's
College in Minnesota.

     

not this:


but this:

 

*The Washington University
is in St. Louis, Missouri.

Washington University
is in St. Louis, Missouri.

     

not this:


but this:

 

*Her son graduated from
the Cholla High School.

Her son graduated from
Cholla High School.

Note: There are exceptions to this general rule:

The Ohio State University
(The usual pattern is without
the.)

The George Washington University
(The usual pattern is without
the.)


_______________________________________________


Special Notes:

1.  

If more than one person has the same name,
and if one of these people is well-known, the

well-known one might be referred to with the:

Is that the Dave Sperling?

Is that the Dave Sperling who created "Dave's
ESL Cafe on the Web"?

Note: When only a name is used, the
is emphasized (stressed).

     
2.  

The same is true for titles plus names:

He's the grandson of the Dr. Smith.

He's the grandson of the Dr. Smith who won
a Nobel Prize.

     
3.  

In the past, the was commonly used with the
names of a few countries:

The Lebanon

The Argentine

The Ukraine

Note: Today, Lebanon and Ukraine are
preferred, and Argentina is used instead of
The Argentine.


_____________________________

Next: more on articles
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