Hi, everyone. I'm Jade. In this lesson today, we're looking at the rules for articles, but
more specifically, the rules where we have exceptions in using articles. So when I'm
observing people's English, all the time I'm hearing the same mistakes with articles. So
what you will learn to do in this lesson is how to avoid those really, really common mistakes
I hear all the time.
If you're somebody who just doesn't use articles at all because in your native language, you
don't have articles, I understand it can be really, really hard to start using them. But
they are an important aspect of grammar, and you should be using them. So if you watch
this lesson, you'll get some tips for using articles, where you need them, and where you
shouldn't use them. And also, if you're someone who's getting articles right nearly all the
time, I'm quite sure that you will pick up one or two rules here that you didn't know
before. So let's get started.
There are eight different rules. Rule No. 1: When we're talking about countries, most
countries we don't use an article. So here some sentences. "She lives in England. They
live in America." We don't use articles. But if the country's considered to be a nation
state, a collection of different states, or a collection of different countries in one
bigger state, then we use articles. Here are examples. So "the U.S.A., the U.K., the U.A.E."
-- where I spend a lot of my time -- and here are -- also, we need to mention islands. When
a country is a group of islands, we always use articles. So we would say "the Virgin
Islands", and we'd say "the Philippines" as well.
It's interesting that we can say, "She lives in England" because England is one country,
but when talking about the same -- okay, it's not exactly the same place, the U.K., because
it's -- the U.K. is more than one country. It's more than just England. But sometimes
people think of it as being the same place. It's not. When we're talking about the U.K.,
we need an article, but just for "England", it's okay not to use an article.
Let's take a look at rule No. 2. Rule No. 2 -- this is a really subtle rule, here. And
this one I always correct in sentences. When people talk about meals -- breakfast, lunch,
dinner, also brunch is a meal you might not know. It's in between breakfast and lunch.
-- we don't use articles. So here's a correct sentence. "I don't eat breakfast." I'm talking
in general there. "I don't eat breakfast." That's okay to say. However, if I'm being
specific, "We didn't like the dinner", it's okay to use an article here. You need to.
So what does the sentence actually mean? Imagine that we were out last night, and we had a
meal. And now, we're talking about it. "Well, the place was nice, but I didn't like the
dinner." Being specific about that experience we had. If I'm talking in general, "I don't
like dinner", that would just mean all the time, okay? So it's a very big difference
Now, we'll look at rule No. 3 for jobs. Jobs take the indefinite article. That's a grammar
word. And "indefinite article" means "a". We don't use "the". Here's our example. "I
want to be a politician." I actually really don't want to be a politician, but maybe some
of you watching this do. If you want to be a politician, you should really study English
really hard. It's very important.
Let's have a look at the next rules. No. 4 -- do you know this English language board
game called "Scrabble"? In this board game, you get points for spelling words. And if
you can spell a long word, that's better, usually. It depends. But sometimes, you'll
have a long word that everybody knows, but actually, you can't get any points for it
in Scrabble because it's a proper noun. And that basically means a noun that takes a capital
letter. So it could be a word that everybody knows like "June, August, Friday" or a place
name like "London". And you don't get any points for that in Scrabble. Also, how it
relates to this lesson is when we're using proper nouns, we don't use "the". We don't
use the definite article. But we can use prepositions. So "See you on Monday" or "He is in London."
It's okay with proper nouns, but not the definite article.
Rule No. 5: When we're talking about languages, we don't use articles there either. So we
can say, "He speaks English." That's a perfectly good sentence.
And rule No. 6, okay. When there's only one of something, then we use "the". So what things
are there only one of something? Well, if you look up in the sky, and it's night. There's
only one moon. And there's only one sun in our solar system. So when we're using the
moon and the sun, we always use "the" with it. And maybe this one is a confusion sometimes
because in your language, maybe "moon" and "sun" are names, so you think they don't use
an article. Well, anyway, in English, they do take an article, so it's really important
that you don't forget to use "the". And -- oh, yes. Here's another one that there's only
one of something in the world. The Internet, okay? There's just one Internet. There are
all these different computers and devices connected to it, but there's just one Internet.
So we use "the" with "Internet".
When we come back, we're just going to look at the final rules using articles, the ones
that people get wrong all the time.
Okay, let's take a look at the last two rules for articles. No. 7 is uncountable nouns.
What are uncountable nouns? These are nouns that we don't add S to, and we find them most
of the time when we're talking about food. For example, "bread". Usually we don't put
a plural with "bread" or "pasta" or "rice". These kinds of things are uncountable nouns.
So usually, we're not going to use "the" with them if you're talking in general. If you
say, "I like bread", we're talking in general, just as a statement. But if you say, "I like
the bread", we're talking about something in the room with us, something we can see,
something at the table with us now, some specific bread.
Rule No. 8 is very similar: abstract nouns. Again, these don't take a plural. What abstract
nouns are is they represent concepts, not real things that we can touch in the world.
They're ideas, concepts. So "information" is an abstract noun, and "freedom" is an abstract
noun". And when do we use an article with these; when don't we use an article? Let's
have a look. "The information was helpful." Here, we're being specific. I'm maybe talking
about something I'm holding in my hands. Whereas, "Freedom is worth dying for" -- there is no
article here because that's a general grand statement about freedom. And if we put abstract
nouns at the beginning of sentences, usually we don't want an article there because we're
talking in general.
So there are my eight irregular rules for articles. If you apply these, that will help
take your English to a higher level because many of these rules people miss out and not
using articles where they need to be, or the other way around. So if you want to take this
a little bit further, you can go to the website, and you can do the quiz on the website. Also,
if you like this video, you can subscribe. Subscribe here on my engVid channel. And also,
on my other YouTube channel where I've got more than 200 videos to help you learn English,
as well. So yes. I'm finished now. And I hope you come back soon for more English with me.