Have you ever been in such situation where no matter what level of English you may have … let it be Elementary, Pre-Intermediate and/or Intermediate, you always have one and the same problem all the time. I am talking about articles.
I would call this aspect of English a virus aspect because if you have problems with articles you will always have those small tiny mistakes both in your speaking and writing. People will always find mistakes and to some point it is really irritating. Your mistakes with articles will be almost everywhere just like a virus.
What do I usually do in order not to make mistakes with articles myself? I usually refresh my knowledge by reading about articles whenever I see something useful about them and/or doing exercises from time to time.
Below I am sharing some of my knowledge with you guys and I hope you will find at least one useful tip for yourself. So let’s go!
1. So use article A and AN ……with singular countable nouns
When you mention a thing or person for the first time you should use an article a or an.
Example: “This morning I have seen a girl with a cat on my way to my office”.
Now in this sentence I talk about the girl and her cat for the first time, so I use the article a before the girl and the cat.
… when you use an adjective for your noun
Whenever you use adjectives like beautiful, clever, clean and etc before your noun you should also use an article a or an.
Example: “I love Uzbekistan because it has a wonderful climate”.
So the word wonderful is an adjective and climate is a noun. That’s why we use the article a before them.
…when you say a person’s profession:
When you introduce yourself to people and say you are a businessman, dentist or teacher, you should always use an article a before the name of the profession.
Example: “I am a teacher of English and I love my job”.
… in exclamations with What …!
Use it when you spend a wonderful time with your friends and then say “What a wonderful day!” otherwise if you don’t use article a you may sound a little weird because you will not sound rhythmic enough.
…in expressions like … times a week
If you go tennis club twice a week you should always use the article a just before the word week. You can also say “… twice a day, twice a month, twice a year” and so on. So you got the idea, right?
2. Use article the when ... you talk about something already mentioned
You mention and introduce a new thing in your conversation and if you have to mention it a second time, then you should use the article the because now it is clear what you are talking about.
Example: “I have seen a girl with a cat on my way to my office this morning. The cat was very sweet”.
So as you can see in the second sentence I use the article the before the word cat because it is clear what cat I am talking about.
… there is only one of something
Let’s you talk about the things which are one and only in the world or one and only in one specific environment.
Example: The moon, the sun, the sky or the boss, the president and so on. So in these cases you should use the article the because we have only one moon, one sun, one sky and one boss.
… it is clear what you are referring to
Let’s suppose you are sitting in your study room talking about your problems with your friend. Suddenly your brother or sister comes in to borrow a pen or pencil from you. Then when he/she is leaving the room, you say, “Could you please close the door?” Yes, you say the door because it is already clear what door you are talking about.
… you talk about places in a town e.g. cinema and theatre
if you are going to the cinema or theatre use the article the because before towns and cities were relatively small with very few entertainment around. So that’s why I guess people knew what cinema or theatre they should go to every weekend.
… use superlatives
perhaps this is something many of you already know. I guess I did not even have to write anything about it in this post. But I decided not ignore it anyway. So if you talk about super duper things while speaking use the article the.
Example: “Burj Khalifa is the tallest tower in the world”.
3 . Don’t use any article when…… you are speaking in general:
if you are not talking about something in general never use any article.
Example: “Love saves the world”
When you say love saves the world you are talking about the love in general. You are not talking about the love between you and your family. You are not talking about the love between your brother and his wife. You are talking about the love in general. Or let me give you another example.
“Health is more important than money”.
… you use some specific nouns:
there are certain nouns in English that do not take any article with themselves when used in speech. They are home, work, school, name of languages (e.g. Spanish, Chinese etc.), name of sports (e.g. tennis, football etc.), names of academic subjects (e.g. Math, English, History etc.). Also don’t use any article after prepositions at/to/from and before meals, days and months.
Finally, don’t use articles before next/last + days, weeks etc.
About the Author
My name is Akmal. I’m an English language enthusiast, blogger, writer and entrepreneur. In addition to being the founder of English Club Pro I’m also a teacher of English with more than 10 years experience. I love helping aspiring English learners to master their English.