Articles for Beginners
Hello, my dear listeners!
Today I'm going to show you that articles are not a problem for you any longer. Are you ready? Then let's start.
What articles do you know?
A, an – these are indefinite articles.
The – it's the definite article.
And no article – zero article.
- We use “a” with singular nouns that we can count, singular countable nouns.
For example, a dog, a house. I have a dog. I live in a house.
Where do you live? Do you have a pet?
- When the word starts with a vowel sound (for example – apple) – we don't say “a apple”, we say “an apple”.
An orange, an elephant.
Have you ever seen an elephant?
When was the last time you ate an orange?
- We use “a” with jobs.
You are a student.
John is a doctor.
Clint Eastwood is an actor and a film director.
When we have the job in plural form, we don't use articles.
My parents are doctors, not my parents are a doctor.
What is your job? What are your parents' jobs?
- When we have an uncountable noun we don't use “a” or “an”.
So can I say “I feel a happiness?”
No, happiness is uncountable, we say that I feel happy, or I feel happiness.
Do you like chocolate?
- We don't use any article when we talk about plural things in general.
I like cats. Cats – plural countable noun. I like cats in general. So I don't need to use any article.
Which do you prefer – cats or dogs?
- We also use no article with sports.
I like football, I played basketball in school.
- But when we talk about jobs – we still use “a”.
He is a football player.
He is a teacher, he is a manager.
What sports do you play?
What sports did you play when you were a child?
What famous sportsmen do you know?
What are their jobs?
- Also, sometimes one word can mean different things if you put “a” or “no article” before them.
For example: I like coffee. In general. As a drink. But in a restaurant, I can say “I'll have a coffee”, meaning that I want ONE coffee, one CUP of coffee. So here, a coffee means ‘1 cup'.
What drinks do you usually order at a restaurant?
- We also use no article before meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper.
I cooked __ breakfast, I had __ lunch, he ate __ dinner.
I have __ coffee and __ biscuits for __ breakfast, not for a breakfast.
When do you usually have __ breakfast?
What do you have for __ lunch?
Do you have __ dinner?
- We use “the” when we talk about something very special, unique.
There is only ONE of this. So we use “the”.
Have you seen the Eiffel tower? Why “the”? Because it's unique, there is only one real Eiffel tower.
I like the flower in your room. There is only one flower in your room, so it's unique.
Do you like the picture for this podcast? Our designers worked hard!
- We also use “the” with musical instruments when we say that we can play them.
I play the guitar.
He plays the piano.
Do you play the violin?
Can you play any musical instrument?
When we say “I have a piano”, we use “a”. I have a guitar in my room.
Do you have a musical instrument in your room?
- When we talk about something for the first time, we use “a”. When we talk about it after this, when we already know what we're talking about because we have talked about it before, we use “the”. This is called first and second time mention. When we mention something for the first time, we use “a” or “an” for singular countable nouns, and no article for plural and uncountable nouns. When we mention something for the second, third, fourth and so on time – we use “the” for all nouns.
I have a dog. The dog is cute.
I saw a girl. The girl was very pretty.
I found __ oranges in my bag. The oranges were sooo tasty!
What did you see this morning? Tell me one detail about it.
- By the way, when I have words like “my”, “your”, “her” and so on before nouns, we don't use articles.
This is a dog. This is my dog.
This is her cat, this is a cat.
When we have possessive adjectives before nouns, don't use articles.
Is this your computer?
Now you know some information about articles! You see, they're not that hard after all!
Check out our “Practice articles” podcast over here.