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    #1

    Smile Correct Usage of Articles

    Many a time, I get confused in using articles, "The", "A", and "An." Can anyone tell me the correct and simple usage of articles.

    Thanks in advance. :)

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Correct Usage of Articles

    ]One of the most difficult and enduring problems in English is articles usage. We could not hope to cover the topic in one thread. Have a look at 'Similar Threads' at the bottom of this page, then come back with specific questions.

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    #3

    Re: Correct Usage of Articles

    It's not that confusing:

    "an" and "a" are the same except "an" is used when the noun begins with a vowel. e.g an accident, an eclipse, an institute.

    Note: We say an hour, an hotel but we write it with an "a" - a "h" followed by a vowel.

    So how do we know when to use a/an or the?
    Well we use "the" when we know specifically which item (noun) were are talking about.
    Imagine you are eating with some friends or family and you can't reach something on the table. You say:
    "Can you pass me the water". Now there is only one jug of water on the table so you can only be referring to that one therefore you use "the".
    However, now you need a napkin and there is a pile of them on the table so you say "Can you pass me a napkin".

    It all depends on the situtation

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    #4

    Re: Correct Usage of Articles

    Quote Originally Posted by The Online English Class View Post

    Note: We say an hour, an hotel but we write it with an "a" - a "h" followed by a vowel.
    Very few people still say "an hotel" - the BBC have dropped the usage!

    Just in case the OP was confused by the second half of your advice - we don't write "a" before "hour".

    It's "an hour" and "a hotel". The "h" in "hour" is not sounded so we use "an" but (nowadays) the "h" in hotel is definitely sounded so we use "a" when speaking and writing.

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    #5

    Re: Correct Usage of Articles

    Quote Originally Posted by The Online English Class View Post
    "an" and "a" are the same except "an" is used when the noun begins with a vowel. e.g an accident, an eclipse, an institute.
    This is not correct- it's about whether the word after it begins with a vowel sound:

    An egg
    but
    A European

    An umbrella
    but
    A university

    Also note:
    An MA
    A URL

    And it's triggered by the word coming after it, so it doesn't have to be a noun:

    A student (noun)
    but
    An average student (adjective + noun)
    An extremely good student (adverb + adjective + noun)


    And this "rule":
    Quote Originally Posted by The Online English Class View Post
    We say an hour, an hotel but we write it with an "a"
    According to you, we would write a hour, which is wrong. We write an hour. Some people use an historic..., and plenty of those who do pronounce the /h/. There are various possibilities with h, but teaching people to write a hour is not one of them in my book- this would be marked wrong in an English language exam.

    And how about humorous? According to you, we'd say an humorous and write a humorous. If you did try to make the h silent, you'd have /j/ at the beginning rather than /hj/, so even dropping the h, your theory on the pronunciation still breaks down.
    Last edited by Tdol; 27-Sep-2011 at 04:56. Reason: Typo

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    #6

    Re: Correct Usage of Articles

    Quote Originally Posted by The Online English Class View Post
    I
    Well we use "the" when we know specifically which item (noun) were are talking about.
    How do these fit in with this view?

    A: I went to the cinema last night.
    B: Which one?
    A: The Odeon
    And

    A: I saw a movie last night.
    B: Which one?
    A: Spiderman VII.
    I agree with Fivejedjon that article usage is a tricky area of the language. My edition of Practical English Usage dedicates 15 pages to the articles, and they crop up on many other pages.

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    #7

    Re: Correct Usage of Articles

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    How do these fit in with this view?



    And



    I agree with Fivejedjon that article usage is a tricky area of the language. My edition of Practical English Usage dedicates 15 pages to the articles, and they crop up on many other pages.
    Hello, Tdol.

    Could you please further expand on this one?

    I have always believed that "the cinema" is used when there's only one cinema in the city or both the speaker and listener have a habit of going to a specific one. Otherwise, "a cinema" should be used.

    Then, after reading your comments, it suddenly occurred to me that I can't remember reading "a cinema" in such a context.

    Maybe it's just that I haven't read enough or have a bad memory. Or perhaps this usage has already been set, as in the case of "all of a sudden"?

    Many thanks

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    #8

    Re: Correct Usage of Articles

    In BrE we have a number of expressions with places, where we often have the activity. in mind.

    Shall we go to the cinema? = Shall we go to see a film?
    I went to the pub last night = I went out for a drink

    Similarly, go to the theatre = go to see a play.

    We can, of course, speak of the buildings in the normal way.

    There used to be a theatre at the end of our road.
    The cinema in our town was next to the swimming pool.

    I met my future wife outside a cinema in Bolton. We were both queuing to see Lawrence of Arabia.

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