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    #1

    Correct usage of "a - an" and "the" articles

    Hello everyone,
    As everyone know I am the hero of this website cause I have got a lot of questions and cannot stop to creating a new threads. I need that somebody could help me.
    Here we go, everyday these two things "a - an" and "the" articles destroys my life, because I have been confused... I know that we use "an" front of vowels, but this time it doesn't matter, because I do not have any problem with "a and an" problem is that I am confuse when I need to use "the" article. I know that we use that article when we talk about concrete thing, but I am still confused. For example: (I am talking to my boss) Hello Mr. Jeff I found your advertment in (a-the) newspaper....
    In this case which one article should I had to use? In my opinion correct answer should be "the", but of course I am not sure. Dear, native speaker please try explain me like a newborn kid how to use them correctly. I hope I didn't talk nonsense :) Regard! Corect me if I did any mistake me if you can do that, because in several times I didn't know what I had to use. :)
    Last edited by JustAlilBit; 20-Nov-2011 at 21:46.

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    #2

    Re: Correct usage of "a - an" and "the" articles

    NOT A TEACHER

    In I found your advertisement in a newspaper, you are not being specific about which newspaper you are talking about. It could be any newspaper, and in this particular conversation that may well be what you want to say. After all, you are really talking about the advertisement, the newspaper in which you saw it might not be of any importance at all.

    In I found your advertisement in the newspaper, you are talking about a specific newspaper and assuming that the other person knows which newspaper you mean.


    Here's a different example. Imagine you are driving to a city you have not visited before, and you are not sure of the way. You stop your car and say to someone passing by,

    I want to go to the city centre. Am I going in the right direction?

    You are asking directions to the centre of the city you are in, and hopefully the person tells you how to get there.

    But suppose instead of that you said,

    I want to go to a city centre. Am I going in the right direction?

    This would make no sense, because if you say a city centre, you are not being specific about which city you are talking about. A city centre could mean any city centre in the world so it would be a bit difficult to tell you how to get there!

    Does that help?

  1. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Correct usage of "a - an" and "the" articles

    All 3 mean something like "one."

    "The" refers to an exact one, usually a particular one that has already been mentioned or is otherwise well known and expected.

    Here is the book we have to buy for literature class.

    "A" refers to any one, not a particular one.

    I think I'll go shopping, and perhaps I'll buy a book.

    "An" is the same, but precedes vowel sounds.

    I am hungry, I think I'll buy an orange.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Correct usage of "a - an" and "the" articles

    Quote Originally Posted by iKitty View Post
    In I found your advertisement in the newspaper, you are talking about a specific newspaper and assuming that the other person knows which newspaper you mean.
    Most of what you wrote in your post is accurate, but the words I have quoted are not always completely true. We tend to say, " I read in the (news)paper this morning that ..." rather as we say, "I heard on the radio this morning that ...". We are almost certainly referring to our own newspaper, but we don't assume that the listener knows which one it is. Similarly, if someone says to us, "I read in the (news)paper that ...", we are not particularly interested in which specific newspaper they read it in.

    'The (news)paper' and its plural form, like 'radio' seem to have become almost institutions, rather like those underlined below:

    I went to the pub, the theatre, the cinema, the opera, the ballet, etc last night.

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    #5

    Re: Correct usage of "a - an" and "the" articles

    Quote Originally Posted by iKitty View Post
    Does that help?
    Yes, it does :)
    If somebody can please give me more example cause I want to be sure that following time it will be used correctly :)

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    #6

    Re: Correct usage of "a - an" and "the" articles

    Thanks chaps you did well job. I am going to read everything not one time. I wanna be sure that I will be perfect on it :)

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Correct usage of "a - an" and "the" articles

    Don't be discouarged by what I'm about to write: You are probably a long way from being perfect at it.

    I have read, and since repeated, and completely agree with, the idea that the natural use of articles is often the final step in being able to write at a native-speaker's level of writing.

    Even I struggle sometimes with which article (or no article) to use in some situations. If you can get it right 80% of the time, you'll be doing very well. And the better news is that no one is likely to misunderstand you if you do use the wrong one. The worst that can happen is that your listener asks for clarification. "Sorry, did you mean a particular X or just any old X?"
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  4. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Correct usage of "a - an" and "the" articles

    Don't give up. if we consider that the listener expects us to read newspapers, we say "I read in the newspaper...." but if they expect we normally do not read them, we say "I read in a newspaper..." In this case, the institutional nature of the act is enough to justify the definite article.

  5. 5jj's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Correct usage of "a - an" and "the" articles

    I agree wholeheartedly with Barb's last post. I am now a fairly experienced teacher, and can explain most of the finer points of English grammar reasonably effectively. Trying to explain to advanced students why native speakers have, or have not, used a particular article in a certain context, and whether a different one would be possible, can be a disheartening experience.

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