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Grammar: The use of articles a, the and zero

Hoy os dejamos con una lección muy recurrente, pues en gramática hay muchos aspectos y elementos necesarios y básicos para la construcción correcta de frases, y los artículos son una parte de ello, ya que siempre acompañan a los nombres o sujetos.

ARTICLES

The indefinite article

We use a or an:

  • with singular, countable nouns mentioned for the first time:

A blue car came round the corner.

We have a new chemistry teacher.

  • to talk about jobs:

His mother’s a doctor.

 

We do not use a or an with uncountable nouns or plural countable nouns:

Knowledge makes people powerful.

More women go to university in this country than men.

  • Use an before words which begin with a vowel sound: an app, an email (but not when the letters ‘u’ or ‘e’ produce a ‘y’ sound: a useful tool, a European student, a university).
  • When ‘h’ is silent, use an: an hour, an honest man

 

The definite article

The is used:

  • with things we have mentioned before or when it’s clear who or what we are referring to from the context:

I’ve got two new teachers. The maths teacher is from California and the English teacher is from Ireland.

Could you go to the bank for me, please? (i.e. the bank we always use)

  • when referring to particular things:

I love music, but I don’t like the music my sister listens to.

  • with things which are unique: the Internet, the moon
  • with adjectives to express groups:

In this country, the rich are growing richer and the poor are growing poorer.

  • with nationalities:

the French, the Spanish, the Italians

  • with instruments:

I play the guitar.

  • with superlative adjectives:

the best, the longest

  • with ordinal numbers (e.g. the first, the second, the third) used as adjectives:

Manolo won the first prize and Igor won the second.

  • with names of countries which include these words Republic, Kingdom, States or Emirates:

The Czech Republic, The United Kingdom, The United States, The United Arab Emirates

  • with names of rivers, mountain ranges, seas and oceans:

the Nile, the Alps, the Mediterranenan, the Pacific

  • with many common expressions:

at the moment, at the age of 15, in the end, on the one hand… on the other hand

  • group of islands, deserts

 

Do not use the, a or an:

  • when talking in general and in the plural:

Teachers are not paid enough.

I can’t imagine offices without computers.

  • with many common expressions:

in bed/ hospital/ prison/ school: He’s in bed.

at home/ university/ work: I’m at university.

(go) to bed/ hospital/ university/ work: What time do you go to work?

  • abstract nouns: I love music.
  • streets, lakes, cities & towns, mountains, countries or islands