Articles, Geographical Terms and Names
- Read this comment from a website about English: It is more international mostly because of television and the Internet.
Articles are tricky and not always logical, I admit. We say, e.g. on the radio/the Internet/the screen/the phone
but on TV, on line
The reason?? I can't think of anything logical now. Maybe someone-else can?
-read the rules:
Articles in English are words like 'a', 'an', 'the'
. The correct use of articles is very difficult. This is partly because there are many rules governing the use of articles, and because there are many instances where the use of articles does not seem to follow any clear rules.
1. When should you use an indefinite article (a/an)
The article 'a/an' is called an 'indefinite article' because it is used with nouns that are not specific (i.e. not definite) yet to the reader/listener.
'A/an' has a similar meaning to 'one'. Therefore we can use it only with a singular noun that is countable. (e.g. I have read a book on this topic. In this example, the reader/listener does not know yet which book is referred to.)
2. When to use the definite article (the)
The definite article 'the' implies that the speaker/listener (or writer/ reader) know which noun is referred to. This may be because:
(i) The noun has been mentioned before. (e.g. A common custom in some societies is to have an initiation ceremony. The initiation ceremony marks entry into the society.)
(ii) There is a word, phrase or clause that comes before or after the noun that makes it specific. (e.g. The figures for this quarter are above average. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle.)
(iii) The noun is preceded by a sequence marker
(e.g. 'first') or is unique (e.g. 'perfect')
(iv) The noun is definite because of a shared knowledge.
For example, if the writer has written 'the government' it means the writer assumes that the reader will know that the reference here is to a particular government (eg. The government of Australia)
Unlike the indefinite article, the definite article can also be used with plural nouns, or with uncountable nouns.
e.g. The books on this topic are on your reading guide.
3. When can you omit the use of an article (Ø = zero article)
We generally do not use articles:
with proper names (e.g. Tom, Dr Smith)
together with another pronoun or determiner (my, this, every)
when using plural or uncountable nouns in making general statements (see section (iii) below)
Making general statements
The is not used with noncountable nouns referring to something in a general sense:
[no article] Coffee is a popular drink.
[no article] Japanese was his native language.
[no article] Intelligence is difficult to quantify.
The is used with noncountable nouns that are made more specific by a limiting modifying phrase or clause:
The coffee in my cup is too hot to drink.
The Japanese he speaks is often heard in the countryside.
The intelligence of animals is variable but undeniable.
The is also used when a noun refers to something unique:
the White House
the theory of relativity
the 1999 federal budget
Note: Geographical uses of the
Do not use the before:
names of countries (Italy, Mexico, Bolivia) except the Netherlands and the US
names of cities, towns, or states (Seoul, Manitoba, Miami)
names of streets (Washington Blvd., Main St.)
names of lakes and bays (Lake Titicaca, Lake Erie) except with a group of lakes like the Great Lakes
names of mountains (Mount Everest, Mount Fuji) except with ranges of mountains like the Andes or the Rockies or unusual names like the Matterhorn
names of continents (Asia, Europe)
names of islands (Easter Island, Maui, Key West) except with island chains like the Aleutians, the Hebrides, or the Canary Islands
Do use the before:
names of rivers, oceans and seas (the Nile, the Pacific)
points on the globe (the Equator, the North Pole)
geographical areas (the Middle East, the West)
deserts, forests, gulfs, and peninsulas (the Sahara, the Persian Gulf, the Black Forest, the Iberian Peninsula)
1. I want an apple from that basket.
2. The church on the corner is progressive.
3. Miss Lin speaks Chinese. (no article needed)
4. I borrowed a pencil from your pile of pencils and pens.
5. One of the students said, "The professor is late today."
6. Eli likes to play volleyball. (no article needed)
7. I bought an umbrella to go out in the rain.
8. My daughter is learning to play the violin at her school.
9. Please give me the cake that is on the counter.
10. I lived on Main Street when I first came to town. (no article needed)
11. Albany is the capital of New York State. (no article needed)
12. My husband's family speaks Polish. (no article needed)
13. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
14. The ink in my pen is red.
15. Our neighbors have a cat and a dog.
Indefinite article a/an is used:
To refer to something for the first time
To refer to a particular member of a group
With singular nouns, after the words what and such
Meaning 'one', referring to a single object or person
Definite article the is used:
To refer to something which has already been mentioned
When both the speaker and listener know what is being talked about, even if it has not been mentioned before
In sentences where we define or identify a particular person on object
To refer to objects we regard as unique
Before superlatives and ordinal numbers
With adjectives, to refer to a whole group of people
With names of geographical areas on oceans
With decades or groups of years
There is no article:
With names of countries (if singular)
With the names of languages
With the names of meals
With people's names (if singular)
With titles and names
After the 's possessive case
With names of shops
With uncountable nouns
With the names of individual mountains, lakes and islands
With most names of towns, streets, stations and airports
- Would you use zero article or the?
Mount Everest, London Zoo, Regent's Park, Hyde Park, Savoy Hotel, Amazon, Cairo, Vatican, Zoo, London, Regent Street, Odeon Cinema, Drury Lane Theatre, Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Bolivia, Australia, Asia, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Red Sea, Dead Sea, Lake Victoria, Westminster Abbey, Saint Mary's Church, Leeds Castle, Blue Mosque, Isle of Mann, Bahamas, Slovakia, River Thames, Texas, University of Hull, Cambridge University, St. Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Tate Gallery, British Museum, Trafalgar Square, St. Pancras Station, Dublin, Stoke Newington Police Station, Netherlands, Hague, USA, People's Republic of China, Euston Bus Station, Alps, Himalayas, Channel Islands, English Channel, Straits of Gibraltar, Ritz, Virgin Megastore, National Portrait Gallery, Lake District
From: http://www.writeit.to/forums/showthreaded.php?Cat=&Board=LANGgram&Number=35321&page=2&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=&fpart= http://www.usingenglish.com/handouts/218.html