ARTICLES [A, AN, THE] 33 ADVANCED RULES + Common Mistakes.- English Grammar


Hello and welcome to LetThemTalk and I hope you're doing well and staying

healthy wherever you are. Recently I've been reaching out to you on YouTube

and on Instagram for your grammar questions. Thank you for all your

questions and today I'm going to answer the most common grammar question of them

all. One that I get again and again and again and that is ......The correct use of

articles. When to use the definite article, the indefinite article and no

article at all. English can sometimes be confusing. Some

languages such as Russian and Japanese and Chinese and Swahili they don't have

articles. Come to think of it, why do we even have them in English? Why can't we

say "I have banana"? Why do we have to say "I have a banana?" Does that add anything

to our understanding? I'm talking to you English language. Well it is what it is

and today we're going to look at the advanced points only (more or less) I'm

hoping that you already know the basics. Beginners we love you but this video is

not for you. Come back later on. Yes we will cover the basics but only we're

only going to do that very, very briefly. Just to get the whole picture and the

rest of the time we're going to look at your common mistakes and fix them. So

let's go.

First an important point about pronunciation. the letter is called A but

it's almost always pronounced [eh] the word is called AN but it's almost always

pronounced [ehn] the only time you would say A or AN is when you are

stressing it in a sentence and, really, why would you do that? You're much more

likely to stress the adjective or the noun. a banana not, A banana a delicious

banana. however I'll give you an example of a

rare case when you would stress A. "this is A question but it's not the question."

"A is the definite article and the first word in the dictionary the second word

is aardvark." this leads me on to my second point. THE before a consonant and

[thee] before a vowel or, again, on the rare occasion you're stressing THE then you

would put [thee] before the continent as well. example "I met a guy in a pub called Paul


- "what THEE Paul McCartney?"

- "No not THEE Paul McCartney this one cuts the

grass in the cemetery"

So the articles, the basics very, very quickly.

The basics I'm just going to do this in a few seconds. You can skip it if

you want to. Anyway A and AN or used before singular, countable nouns A, AN

for the introduction of a new thing or a thing in general. I return to my banana

"This is a banana, sometimes I eat a banana for breakfast"

That is an ambulance outside.

Plurals have no indefinite article "bananas are

delicious." "We have bananas in the house." Now for the

specific thing, the one we already discussed we

use"THE banana." "This is banana I'm going to eat with my coffee." Plural "the

bananas." "The bananas" - here you are the lots of bananas today - "the bananas I bought from

the supermarket are yellow." Surprisingly. Uncountable things happen no articles

"Coffee is tasty," "soup is good for you." You can use a definite article

before an uncountable noun when we mean the thing that we've already talked about.

the definite article is okay "the soup I had for lunch." ""The salt is on the table."

Now we're on to the advanced points, finally, let's go with that. Things that

are uncountable do not take A or AN now the advanced point is that, remember that,

Some words in English are uncountable but they might be countable in your

language. There are lots of examples of these so be careful. So in these cases

never use A or AN before them for example information never say "I have an

information," "I have the information" that's fine

"I have some information" that's okay "I have information" okay "I have two

informations" no it's uncountable "I have two pieces of information". There is no

plural of information "informations" doesn't exist

it's uncountable and that's a common mistake lots more examples of those

types of words in English. ADVICE uncountable never say "I have an advice" "I

have some advice." "I have a piece of advice."

that's okay. There is no plural of ADVICE "Advices" doesn't exist its uncountable.

Count with pieces. Two pieces of advice. two good piece of advice. NEWS

never say "a news," "some news," "a piece of news" other words that never take the

indefinite article: Furniture, equipment, gossip, research, money, luggage, bread don't

say "a luggage" there's more LUCK don't say "I had a luck" no "I had a stroke of

luck today" and for more information on how to count these uncountable nouns

watch the video up here. Professions and roles. To talk about a profession or a

role use the indefinite article. "he's an engineer," "she's an accountant," "she's a

grandmother." Common mistake "I'm teacher" no, no, no "I'm a teacher" that's correct. In

general if we're talking about uncountable or plural things, in general,

use no article. Let's look at some examples of that. "Freedom is better than

imprisonment." "I miss the freedom I had when I was a student."

!women read more books than men"

"the woman outside has a green hat."

"Chimpanzees don't understand irony."

"The chimpanzee in London Zoo can do The Times crossword." With abstract

ideas remember don't use an article when talking about them in general. "Beauty is

in the eye of the beholder."

"The democracy is something worth fighting for." Is that

right no it's not, no, it's an abstract idea. No article. "Democracy is something

worth fighting for." That's better

For meals there's no article "let's have

breakfast." "Let's have lunch."

For sports no article "I like football", "jogging is good

for you." That's what they say.

For games don't put an article "he plays chess to a

high level," "I like go" do you know the game of go? However with

animals, plants, musical instruments and a few scientific inventions you can make a

generalization with THE and a singular noun for example. "the giraffe is an

African animal with a long neck." "The chimpanzee is the closest human relative."

"The ukulele is normally made of wood." "the smartphone has changed our lives." if we

are talking about a typical example of one of these things we use A or AN for

example "a giraffe does not make a very good pet." So I'm talking about this

imaginary giraffe in my house not all giraffes in general. "A chimpanzee does

not make a very good dinner guest." "A smartphone is not a good gift for a

five-year-old child." "A ukulele is a musical instrument

which is good for those with little background in music." You can also use

plurals to express the same idea with no article so, going back to my earlier

example "Giraffes do not make good pets." "smartphones are not good gifts for

five-year-old children." etc

For superlatives use THE "this is

the funniest joke I've ever heard." "You are the best singer in the world."

for the physical environment

use THE the wind, the sea, the weather, the town, the country,

the night, the universe, the rain, the mountains. "the rain falls hard on a

humdrum town." "we joined the Navy to see the world but what did we see we saw the

sea." However, we say SPACE not "the space." "The rocket went into space." and we say

NATURE not "the nature." I love nature do you love nature?

Now talking about nationalities, "Canadians love maple syrup while the

British love Marmite." What's going on here?

Why have CANANDIANS have no article but it's THE BRITISH? The peoples of

some countries have an adjective and a corresponding noun. For example, an

Italian opera, but she's an Italian. An Indian movie and he's an Indian. OK

American Cuban German and several other nationalities are adjectives and nouns.

English is an adjective but it's not a noun for the people. To make it a

noun you have to put THE in front of the adjective. The English. French, the

French, the Japanese. "The French like wine while Germans prefer beer." You can put

THE before GERMANS but it's not necessary. A common mistake I hear is the addition of

PEOPLE after the nation adjective when you're generalizing for example. "Swiss

people like to climb mountains." "people" is redundant here just say the

Swiss. "The Swiss like to climb mountains." Don't say "when I was in the States

I spent most of my time with American people." do say "when I was in the States

I spent most of my time with Americans."

Country names are not generally preceded

by THE; Pakistan, Indonesia, Belgium. however, some countries, especially those

divided into states are preceded by THE: The Netherlands, the UK, The U.S,. The

Philippines. Be careful this list changes over time we still aren't sure whether

to say Ukraine or The Ukraine a few years ago it was The Ukraine but not

much now. Read old books and they talk about The Argentine

now not anymore we just say Argentina. Hello Argentina.

Mountains have no

article before them. "I climbed Everest." "You can see Mont Blanc from here." mountain

ranges, on the other hand, take THE. the Andes, the Himalayas, the Alps

some common places do not take articles it's as if

they are uncountable/ For

example SCHOOL. "I went to school today" but if you're talking about a specific

one not a place of education in general, then you can use THE. "I went to the

school at the top of the road." WORK. "I leave work at 6 p.m. every day" not "the

work." HOME "I will arrive home soon." COLLEGE. "I'll see you at college." PRISON

"He killed a man and now he's in prison."

HOSPITAL in British English you say "he

fell down stairs and now he is in hospital."

however, in American English, they do say THE HOSPITAL.

BED "I'm tired I'm going to bed."

Which means I'm going to sleep even if it's not in a bed but for a single

instance of the thing then you can say THE BED "I left my coat on the bed" ok

CLASS. "See you in class." The meaning changes if you say THE CLASS then it means

classroom "I left my umbrella in the class." ok you

got it? Noun modifiers: When a noun modifiers

another noun don't put an article in front of the phrase. So for example "I'm

taking English lessons with LetThemTalk." Not "the English lessons." In English

we usually use possessive to talk about parts of the body.. "She grabbed my arm." "I

hurt my leg." "I brush my teeth every day.." "You should wash your hands very often."

However, when a body part comes into contact with an outside object we often

use THE after a preposition. Let me give you an example and you'll see

what I mean. "The cricket ball hit me on the arm." ":Look at me in the eye." "He punched

me in the teeth."

Musical instruments: In British English use the definite

article "the guitar," "the violin," "the piano" in American English the article is

sometimes dropped, "she plays guitar"

Use THE to talk about things that are unique

or the only one that we have of something.

For example, the moon, there is only one moon, I think, the Sun, the world, the internet, the

government, "the Burton's are coming to dinner." Which means the Burton family

they are the only Burton family around here so we can use THE and it can

be pluralized. The Burtons

Social groups use THE before the name of

a social group, the rich, the poor, the unemployed, the elderly, the young, the

disabled. "We need to find jobs for the unemployed." "We must provide easy access

for the disabled." A common mistake I hear is the addition of the word "people" after

the adjective. "We must provide easy access for disabled people." no, not really

The word "people" is redundant, you don't need it. "Rich people should pay more

taxes." is that correct? Well it's better to say "the rich should pay more taxes."

Sounds better doesn't it?

Before BOTH and ALL we don't normally put THE. "Do you

like bananas or tangerines?"

"I like both." Don't say "I like the both." I hear

that all the time it's not correct. What about this? "Do you like bananas, tangerines or

melons." What's the answer?

"I like all three." That's right, very good.

After BOTH we can use THE but it is often omitted before a noun. "both the

books were interesting." or "both books were interesting." It's the same.

Days, months, seasons.

We say "last week," "next week," "last February," "next February," when we are

talking in general about a recent or future time. A common mistake I hear is

to say "the last week" No, that's not right. "I saw him last week" not "I saw him the

last week." Okay "See you next Tuesday." "It was a cold, February morning." However if

we add more information in order to describe a particular day or a month

then we add THE. "this is the last week before the holiday." "I was quite nervous

on the Tuesday before the exam." "It was the February before the revolution."

Television media and the arts: My friend was on TV, he played a bank

robber in a detective series. My friend was on the TV but he fell off and broke

his leg. So if you're performing for television

then there is no article. You're on TV. or you're on television. The TV is the

physical object in your house okay so you put something, you put a plant on the

TV. Strangely this is not the same for radio "I was on the radio talking about

bla bla bla." If you're talking about TV as a form of entertainment and not

the object don't put THE. "Do you watch TV? do you

watch a lot of TV?" "She worked in TV for many years." For

other mediums of entertainment you can talk about them without THE. I love

cinema, I love art, I like photography, I love theatre, in fact I worked in theatre

for several years but if you talk about a specific one then you use THE "I went

to the cinema last Saturday night."

Units and measurements: In

some expressions about measurements we use BY THE for example "we sell milk by

the litre." "This hotel you can pay by the hour." "taxis charge by the mile." However,

when you're comparing one measurement against another you can use A or AN. I

learn English three times a week. A common mistake I hear is to use BY "I

drink coffee three times by day." No, no, that's wrong "three times a day." if you

want to be more formal you could use PER actually, in this case. "I upload the file

five times per month" or "a month" It's the same. So PER is okay but not BY

when we're talking about quantities of uncountable and plural nouns we can use

SOME and ANY "I've got some bananas" in the negative use ANY "I don't have any

oranges." However SOME and ANY can usually be dropped without any change of meaning.

"I've got bananas." "I want bread." "I haven't got time." "I

haven't got any time." "he's bald." "He hasn't got any hair."

"He hasn't got hair." It's the same. Okay by the way, there is a difference between

TIME and THE TIME. TIME is uncountable so it takes no article "we're wasting time."

Time is a concept. However we say the

time to mean the hour of the day. "what's the time?" "I don't know I haven't got the time."

And finally there are different rules in newspaper headlines. Often the articles are dropped

"Man dies in Himalayas avalanche." which in standard writing is "a man died

in an avalanche in the Himalayas." Well we'll talk about newspaper headlines in

more detail another time. It's beyond the scope of this video.

to learn the rules the best way, of course, is to listen and practice as much

as possible. Most native speakers won't know these rules but they will use them

instinctively. So if you're constantly reading and listening and speaking you

will eventually pick them up. However it's a good idea to have the rules as a

guideline to refer to them if you're not sure. Anyway, so there you are, take care,

stay healthy, wash your hands, don't eat bat and see

you next time.