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Sep 21, 2016

Know When To Use The English Articles.



The knowledge of using the English articles is very limited among learners of the English Language. For example, the article 'a/an.' Most learners of English think the article, 'a' is only used before a word beginning with a consonant while the article 'an' is only used before a word beginning with a vowel. Well, this is undoubtedly correct but the use of the English articles is not only limited to this.

The article is part of the English word class or part of speech that belongs to a close class system(that is, it does accept new members into its class). Articles are also known as 'determiners' in English language; they usually precede a noun (if they must occur) in a sentence.

The article only has two members/types/items. These members/types/items are: 
1. The definite article.
2. The indefinite article.

The Definite Article(The)
The definite article is 'the.' 'The' is used when the reference is known to the speaker and the person he is addressing. In other words, if the subject is known to both the speaker and the addressee, you use the definite article, 'the.' 
Example:
The boy came in yesterday.
Using the definite article, 'the' before 'boy' means that both the speaker and the addressee have a prior knowledge  of the subject which is 'the boy.'

The definite article(the) also occurs with some proper nouns like:
1. The names of rivers, e.g. The River Nun.
2. The names of institutions, e.g. The Niger Delta University, The University of Port Harcourt etc.
3.The names of mountains, e.g. The Mount Everest.
4. The names of Newspapers, e.g. The Punch, The Daily Times, The Sun etc.

It is therefore ungrammatical to omit the article 'the' while stating the names of the proper nouns mentioned above.

The Indefinite Article(a/an)
'A(n)' is used when the person you are talking about is not known to both the speaker and the addressee. 
Example
A boy came home yesterday.

If you tell your addressee that 'a boy came home yesterday,' he/she will definitely ask you, 'which boy?.'This is because you use the indefinitely article which shows that 'the subject' is not known to both the speaker and the addressee.
On the other hand, if you tell your addressee that, 'the boy came home yesterday,' he/she won't ask you, 'which boy' except the both of you have a prior knowledge of two or more guys/boys.

The indefinite article has two variants. It can be 'a' or 'an' depending on the phonological environment. If it is 'a,' it means the noun it precedes or comes before begins with a consonant, e.g. a boy, a door, a car etc. However, if it is 'an,' it means the noun it precedes begins with a vowel, e.g. an orange, an umbrella an advert etc.

Conclusion
In sum, from the above explanation, it is therefore ungrammatical or wrong to use an indefinite article('a' or 'an') when talking about a subject that is known by both the speaker and the addressee. It is also wrong to use a definite article(the) when talking about a subject that both the speaker and the addressee have no prior knowledge of.

Hope the lesson is understood and helpful?




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