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Jen’s English Tips – General Guidelines for Using Articles

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General Guidelines for Using Articles

Use THE when you know or assume that your listener is familiar with and thinking about the same specific thing/person you are talking about.

• Please hand this book to THE teacher.
• Julie is in THE kitchen.

Use THE for the second mention of an indefinite noun.

• I saw some dogs. THE dogs were chasing a cat. THE cat was chasing a mouse. THE mouse ran into a hole. THE hole was very small.

Do not use THE with a plural count noun or a non-count noun when you’re making a generalization.

• Durians are my favorite fruit. (NOT THE durians are my favorite fruit.)
• Diamond is a girl’s best friend. (NOT THE diamond is a girl’s best friend.)

THE is not used for the second mention of a generic noun. A generic noun represents a whole class of things; it is not a specific thing but rather a symbol of a whole group.

Compare these examples:

• What color is A banana? (generic noun)
• Paul offered me A banana (indefinite noun) or an apple.

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Posted by on Mar 21 2016. Filed under English Tips by Jen. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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