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  1. #1
    sr005307 is offline Newbie
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    Default Usage of "the" and "a"

    Greetings.
    Actually I'm EFL student.

    In my mother tongue, there are no "the" and "a".
    It drives me crazy....
    I've red hundreds of times when "the" should be used and not,
    however it is really hard to tell.

    Almost every situation must be remembered for writing for me I think.

    What should I do?
    If I have to remember, and then what should I remember?

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Grumpy's Avatar
    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Usage of "the" and "a"

    Try to think of "the" referring to some specific object or person, and "a" referring to any object or person.

    Thus, you would say "Give me the hammer" when you want a particular hammer - perhaps the hammer already being held by the person to whom you are speaking, or when there is only one hammer in the toolbox. If there are several different hammers in the toolbox, and you don't care which one you get, you would say "Give me a hammer".

    Similarly, consider these two sentences:

    1. I found a stone in my pocket, and I threw the stone into the water.

    2. I found a stone my pocket, and I threw a stone into the water.

    In the first sentence, it is pretty clear that the stone thrown into the water was the stone that he had taken from his pocket.
    In the second sentence, it is not certain that it was the same stone. Having found a stone in his pocket, he may have picked up another stone from the ground, and thrown that one into the water.
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Usage of "the" and "a"

    For speakers of languages like yours, articles are a real problem and there's no simple solution- I'm afraid time and experience are your allies in this struggle. When you make mistakes, analyse and ask why. Over time, you will find yourself making fewer mistakes and being more confident about them.

  4. #4
    charliedeut's Avatar
    charliedeut is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Usage of "the" and "a"

    And, actually, you are an EFL student at present​. It's a false friend for Spanish speakers too.
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  5. #5
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    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Usage of "the" and "a"

    Quote Originally Posted by charliedeut View Post
    And, actually, you are an EFL student at present​. It's a false friend for Spanish speakers too.
    Yes, or 'currently', 'at the moment'. I'd choose 'currently' in this case.

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