|An article is a word that is put next to a noun to indicate the type of reference being made to the noun. English language has two types of articles, namely, indefinite articles and definite articles.
Indefinite Articles (a, an) refer to any member of a group.
I am a boy.
It is an elephant.
There is a girl.
Definite Article (the) refers to a specific member of a group.
Example: Please return the book that you borrowed from the library yesterday.
The following table summarizes the rules for using the articles:
(This one, that one)
One of many
One of many groups
The is not used with noncountable nouns referring to something in a general sense:
[no article] Coffee is a popular drink.
[no article] Japanese was his native language.
[no article] Intelligence is difficult to quantify.
The is used with noncountable nouns that are made more specific by a limiting modifying phrase or clause:
The coffee in my cup is too hot to drink.
The Japanese he speaks is often heard in the countryside.
The intelligence of animals is variable but undeniable.
The is also used when a noun refers to something unique:
the White House
the theory of relativity
the 1999 federal budget
Geographical uses of the
Do not use 'the' before:
- Names of countries (Italy, Mexico, Bolivia) except the Netherlands and the US
- Names of cities, towns, or states (Seoul, Manitoba, Miami)
- Names of streets (Washington Blvd., Main St.)
- Names of lakes and bays (Lake Titicaca, Lake Erie) except with a group of lakes like the Great Lakes
- Names of mountains (Mount Everest, Mount Fuji) except with ranges of mountains like the Andes or the Rockies or unusual names like the Matterhorn
- Names of continents (Asia, Europe)
- names of islands (Easter Island, Maui, Key West) except with island chains like the Aleutians, the Hebrides, or the Canary Islands
Do use 'the' before:
- Names of rivers, oceans, and seas (the Nile, the Pacific)
- Points on the globe (the Equator, the North Pole)
- Geographical areas (the Middle East, the West)
- Deserts, forests, gulfs, and peninsulas (the Sahara, the Persian Gulf, the Black Forest, the Iberian Peninsula)
Directions: Fill in the blanks with the correct articles. Write your own example sentences for each of the rules for using the articles described in this chapter. As a homework, read a book; and find at least ten articles and write the sentences in which they appear.