Jen’s English Tips – General Guidelines for Using Articles
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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