1. Newbie
Join Date
Nov 2012
Posts
1

## Articles

Hello.

I would like to ask you if it is possible to learn and to understand the usage of a/an, the and no article once and for all.

Are there any comfortable tables with examples? Could please recommend some really good resources.

And my question.

Is it possible to say A MAIN PROBLEM IS or only THE MAIN PROBLEM Is?

If it is, what's the difference in meaning?

And what's the correct variant: to pay more than A minimum or to pay more than THE minimum?

In AN emergency or in emergency?

2. Member
Join Date
Oct 2012
Posts
196

## Re: Articles

Originally Posted by LiudmilaU
Hello.

I would like to ask you if it is possible to learn and to understand the usage of a/an, the and no article once and for all.

Are there any comfortable tables with examples? Could please recommend some really good resources.

And my question.

Is it possible to say A MAIN PROBLEM IS or only THE MAIN PROBLEM Is?

If it is, what's the difference in meaning?

And what's the correct variant: to pay more than A minimum or to pay more than THE minimum?

In AN emergency or in emergency?

As a non-native English speaker, I can assure you, in reply to the red part, that the answer is an unequivocal no. If there were such a way, everyone in the world would be proficient in the language.

3. ## Re: Articles

Articles can be difficult but not impossible. Take a look at this link. Purdue OWL: How to Use Articles (a/an/the)

4. ## Re: Articles

Originally Posted by LiudmilaU
I would like to ask you if it is possible to learn and to understand the usage of a/an, the and no article once and for all.
***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. Moreover, there are always going to be exceptions. For example, a speaker of American English would write, 'Seventeen people were injured and taken to the hospital'. On the other hand, a speaker of British English would probably leave out the article. The meaning is the same.

5. Senior Member
Join Date
Jan 2010
Posts
1,452

## Re: Articles

Originally Posted by LiudmilaU
Hello.

I would like to ask you if it is possible to learn and to understand the usage of a/an, the and no article once and for all. Given enough time, at least an average intelligence, and dedication, most things are possible.

Are there any comfortable tables with examples? Could please recommend some really good resources. "Comfortable" is incorrect here. To me a comfortable table is a piece of furniture which is mainly used to place food for eating. You should use "easy" or "understandable".

And my question.

Is it possible to say A MAIN PROBLEM IS or only THE MAIN PROBLEM Is?
There are many problems with the water systems in New Jersey. A main problem is the depth of the wells. The main problem is the lack of pressure.

A = one of many
The = the only one

Go and see Mr. Jones. He has a house on the hill (there are 14 houses on the hill and Mr. Jones owns one).
Go and see Mr. Jones. He has the house on the hill (there is only one house on the hill and Mr. Jones owns that house).

If it is, what's the difference in meaning?

And what's the correct variant: to pay more than A minimum or to pay more than THE minimum?
Employ the same reasoning here. "A" minimum could refer to any minimum. "The" minimum refers to a minimum which most people understand (similar to the only house on the hill). If you work for me, I will pay you a minimum wage (but you still don't know how much that is). If you work for me, I will pay you the minimum wage (that is established by law or custom as being a certain amount).

In AN emergency or in emergency?
In the US either form is acceptable. This is where problems in understanding the usage of articles usually confuses people (including me). I went to college, but I went to a university. I had to go to a hospital, but in BrE one can go to hospital.

Gil

6. VIP Member
Join Date
Apr 2009
Posts
8,258

## Re: Articles

I just read an article in my newspaper and the byline said "Tom Ridge, the first Director of Homeland Security, is the former Governor of Pennsylvania."

I would have said "a" former governor. There is only one "first" director, but there are numerous former governors.

So, even native speakers can differ.

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