One feature of English which can cause a lot of problems for learners is articles, those little words 'a', 'an' and 'the'. Today we begin to look at this topic with a basic rule.
In the programme we challenge Saleh from Saudi Arabia to spot correct and incorrect uses of definite and indefinite articles.
Listen to the programme!
There are two types of articles. They are known as the definite and indefinite articles. The words 'a' and 'an' are the indefinite articles and 'the' is the definite article. Articles are used at the beginning of noun phrases.
a or an?
If the noun begins with a vowel sound then the indefinite article to use is 'an', e.g. an apple. However if the noun begins with a consonant sound, then the indefinite article to use is 'a', e.g. a cat.
The zero article
In some cases nouns such as plural and uncountable nouns do not have articles before them. This lack of an article is sometimes known as the zero article, e.g. I've got two cats.
There are quite a few rules connected with the use of articles. Here is a basic one to start with:
Download Nuala's grammar explanation and table (pdf - 31k)
Download this programme (mp3 - 1.8 MB)
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Now it's your turn to practise articles. Go to our quiz page on this subject here.
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