| #4 (permalink) Fri Sep 14, 2012 16:26 pm Re: Test incompl/elem-222, Question 9
When article 'a' and article 'the' should be used?
Nandhini, your question, when put grammatically and in full, will change into:
When should the article 'a/an' and the article 'the' be used?
Now as regards the use of the articles I must say that it is an important area which most non-natives of English, particularly Asians, are confronted with. However, I shall make a small attempt to give you some idea.
As we know, there are two types of articles - non-definite and definite - represented respectively by words 'a/an' and 'the'. The phonetic rule demands that we use 'a' before words beginning with a consonantal sound and 'an' before words beginning with a vowel sound. So, we say thus: a book, a woman, a European, a university, a year etc and an apple, an Indian, an hour, an uncle etc. (For the definite article also we have the phonetic rule, but it becomes notable only while speaking)
Now, the non-definite article is used before any count noun.
e.g. He has a car. She bought an apple etc.
It is used to refer to any thing or any one general.
e.g. I saw a blind man on the street. (This could be any one)
It is used to refer to anything generic.
e.g. A lion is a wild animal. (All lions are wild animals)
It is used to refer to someone's occupation or profession.
e.g. He is a carpenter. She is a singer. (Before the names of occupations/professions)
[Though there are other uses, this will do for the time being]
If you are interested in the use of the definite article, let me know so that I can illustrate it with explanations supported by examples.
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