Tuesday, 27 May 2014

1. The Articles
     ‘A’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ are the three articles we have in the English language. ‘A’ and ‘an’
     are called indefinite articles and ‘the’, the definite article. ‘A’ or ‘an’ is used with
     count nouns and ‘the’ with both count and noncount nouns.

1.1 Indefinite Articles: ‘A’ and ‘An’
         · We generally use them before nouns in the singular:
                    a book    an elephant    an interesting story   a town     a country
         · We use ‘a’ before nouns in the singular beginning with consonant sounds:
                    a book   a cat   a dog    a fox   a pin  a university   a year
                        a woman     a boy       a girl    a hair     a song     a wheel     a zebra
                        a uniform, a useful book, a European
                        a one-way street      a one-day cricket match     a one-year course
            · We use ‘an’ before nouns in the singular beginning with vowel sounds:
                    an apple    an eagle    an inch   an oasis   an usher 
                    an Indian    an orange    an umbrella   an hour
                    an honest man      an heir      an honour         an honourable man

Note: Remember that we use ‘a’ or ‘an’ based on the sounds and 
          not the letters.


List of vowels and consonants: Vowel sounds represented by the vowel letters                                                              

a, e, i, o, u                              
an army    an ape    an apple     an account     an alder    an altar
an eye       an eagle    an ear    an  earl     an editor     an example    an emblem
an island   an idiot
an ocean    an object    an oil field     an onion     an order    an outcome
an umbrella    an usher
Consonant Sounds
b, c (k), c (s),  d, f, g, g (j),  h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z , ch, th, ph (f), sh  
a band      a car    a cell   a dog   a face     a gap   a general  a heart    a judge    a key    
a leg      a man     a name     a one-man committee  [here ‘o’ is pronounced ‘w’ as in  
‘win’ with rounded lips]  a pin    a queue    a rat   a song    a tap   a uniform [here ‘u’ is
pronounced ‘y’ as in ‘you’]  a van    a wound   a year   a zero  a  chicken   a thumb a phone
a ship

Note: f, l, m, n, r, s, x, h are consonant sounds when they begin nouns in the singular.
            But they, by themselves, begin with vowel sounds when pronounced:
             f (-ef)       l(el)     m(em)    n(en)    r(or)     s(es)     x(eks)     h(ech)
          and are considered nouns in the singular. So, we use ‘an’ before them.
               If you add an ‘f’ to ‘our’ you get ‘four’.
               You’re learning driving. So you need an ‘L’ board.
               My uncle is an M.P.
               /i/ is an R.P. sound.
               The doctor wants an x-ray of my ribs.
               My sister is an S.I.  
               Though there is an ‘h’ in ‘hotel’, some do not pronounce it.                         


1.2 ‘A’ or ‘an’ with words that come before count nouns:
count nouns
an army                                an effort                                   an idea
an unhappy army                an excellent effort                   an interesting idea
a large army                         a difficult effort                       a useless idea 
an obligation                         an umpire                                 a book
an obvious obligation            an old umpire                           a bad book
a necessary obligation           a young umpire                        an  engaging book   

1.3 The definite article

The’ is the definite article. It’s used to refer to something or someone that has already been mentioned or is easily understood.
           There were five questions in all. The first three were easier than the last two. 

1. We generally use ‘the’ before count nouns—both singular and plural:
    [We have a specific person/thing in mind.]
           The stranger helped the old woman. The strangers helped the old woman.
         Note: It’s possible to say: A stranger helped the old woman.
     But here the speaker is not referring to any particular person.

2. We use ‘the’ also before a noncount noun that is specific:
                 Health is wealth. (No article because here both noncount nouns are non-specific.)
                 The health of a population is the wealth of a society.
           Here both noncount nouns refer to particular aspects of a society.

3. We use ‘the’ before a noun when it appears for the second time:
                 I saw a lady in front of a shop. [non-specific]
                        The lady entered the shop a moment later. [specific]
                    Every country has a capital.
                       The capital of a country is normally a very big city.  
4. when a singular noun is used to talk about a whole class, race, group etc.           
                 The bear is a strong animal. 
                 The cow is a sacred animal.

1.4 More about articles
The correct use of the articles (a/an and the) is one of the most difficult points in English grammar. We don’t always use articles where we should be using them. Let’s learn where and how to use them. 

1.5 ‘A’ or ‘an’
       The indefinite article is also used :
            [i] in the meaning of ‘any/all’: 
                          A dog is a faithful animal.
                            [All dogs are faithful animals.]
                          A house is a place of shelter.
                            [All houses are place of shelter.]

            [ii] in the meaning of ‘one’:
                           A dog was barking for a long time.
                           There’s a house for sale.         

Note: Though ‘a’ or ‘an’ can mean ‘one’, we can’t use 
          ‘one’ in the place of ‘a’ or ‘an’ because there is a
          difference in meaning:
              One dog was barking for a long time.
                 [not two or three]
              A dog was barking for a long time.
                 [I’m not definite about which dog it was.]
           ‘One’ is used when we think in terms of number
           and ‘a’ or ‘an’ when we are not definite, when we
           are unable to be specific.

             [iii] When a count noun is mentioned for the first time:
                              I saw a lady in front of a shop. A moment later, the lady entered the
             [iv] in certain numerical expressions:
                              a couple    a dozen    half a dozen    a score (20)   a gross (144) 
                              a hundred    a million    an eighth    a quarter (1/4)

             [v] in expressions of price, speed, ratio:  
                              fifty rupees a kilo          sixty kilometers an hour      three times a day

             [vi] in time expressions:
                              a while ago     a moment ago     Just a minute!      a short time ago

             [vii] with a personal name:[to mean that a person giving his/her name as…..]                    
                    ·  “A Mr Rajagopalan is here to see you.”   “Show him in.”
                    ·  “Hello! Could I speak to Anupama, please?
                            “I’m sorry. But there isn’t an Anupama at this address.”

                           ·  “I used to know a Mary Roberts.” (=I knew one person whose name was Mary Roberts.)

                           ·  “A Mr Joshua called when you were away.”

             [viii] with a personal name by way of comparison:
                              He thinks he’s a Kalidasa.
                                [He thinks he is as great a poet as Kalidasa.]

                [ix] with superlatives: 
                               My boss is a most ruthless person.  
                              (My boss is a very ruthless person.)
                      The use of ‘a’ changes the comparison to emphasis: most=very

                 [x] with ‘few’ and ‘little’ to give them a positive meaning:
                             · The evidence against you is very strong;
                                  yet, a few may believe you’re not guilty.
                             · The evidence against you is very strong.
                                  Few will believe you’re not guilty.
                                  [Almost no one]     

                              ·  My superior has little patience with inefficient subordinates.
                                                          [almost no]
                               ·  I’ve had a little success this week.
           Note:  Most of us fail to use ‘a’ with ‘few’ when
            we express a positive thought. Remember to
            use ‘a’ when you mean ‘some’, remember to
            not use ‘a’ when you mean ‘not many’.

             We’ve had  a few replies. (some)  We’ve had few replies. (not many)

            Similarly, remember to use ‘a’ with ‘little’
            when you mean ‘some’, remember to not use ‘a’
            when you mean ‘not much’.
             ‘What are his chances of winning the title?’            
                            ‘A little.’
                            ‘What are his chances of winning the title?’
            And remember ‘few’ is used with count noun words
            and ‘little’ with non-count words
                  [xi] With nouns that go always as a pair:
                                  a cup and saucer              a knife and fork

                 [xii] in a number of phrases like:                                
                                on an average                  at a discount
                                 It’s a pity that…             I’m in a hurry.
                                 I have a headache/a cold/ a cough
                         but   I have toothache/earache/fever
                [xiii]   an hour                       }
                          an hourly meeting        }
                          an honest person         } In all these words, ‘h’ is always silent and not
                          an honour                    } pronounced and so ‘an’ is used.
                          an honourable person   }
                          an heir                         }

                 [xiv] I’ve had a poor education.      ‘education’, ‘coffee’, ‘food’ are non-count nouns 
                         This is a nice coffee.                and  so ‘a’ is not used. But ‘a’ is used if non-count
                         Chappathi is a healthy food.    nouns are preceded by qualifying expressions.
                         ‘a long time’ →  ‘time’ is a noncount noun but is preceded by ‘long’, so ‘a’ is used.

                     [xv] ‘A’ is required with cold, fever and temperature:
                          I have a fever, so I’m staying in bed.
                          You have a temperature, so you need to take medicine.
                          Do you have a cold?

1.6 ‘A’ or ‘an’
       The indefinite article is not used:
          [i] before a title or a position in an organization:
                              He was elected president.      
                                    A woman was appointed General Secretary of the UNO.

         [ii] before names of meals at someone’s home or at a restaurant: 
                              Have you had lunch?        Will you be home for supper?
                              I had a late breakfast.   Have a light lunch.
                                    I was invited to a dinner given to welcome our new Chairperson.
           [iii] before non-count nouns like:
                             advice    information      news   baggage   furniture   equipment

          [iv] before material nouns:
                              Iron is a metal.    We need paper for printing.
           [v] before abstract nouns : 
                             beauty     honesty     sincerity   fear   happiness

           [vi] before nouns following ‘kind of’ and ‘sort of’:
                            What kind of man is he?      What sort of game is this?  
           [vii] in expressions like:
                          · by/at [dawn/daybreak/dusk/noon/night/sunrise/sunset]
                          · by hand
                          · in summer/winter/autumn
                          · before/after breakfast/lunch/dinner/supper/tea/brunch 
                                                {town                               · be at}{school
                          · be in}   {bed                             · go to}{sea   
                          · go to}   {hospital
                           · be in/be at church      · go to college    · during break/recess  
                           · live on/off campus     · be in court        · take someone to court
                           · come/go/leave home   · be(at) home          · feel at home
                           · travel}     {bicycle
                                    · leave }by {bus
                                    · come }     {car
                                    · go      }     {boat
                            · communicate by {telephone/telex
                                                                {post (BrE)
                                                                {mail (AmE)
                            · by hand   · on foot    · in turn   · out of step  · on top of    · by way of 
                                      · at dawn’daybreak
                                      · at sunrise/sunset
                                      · at or around noon/midnight
                                      · at/by night

1.7 More about the uses of the definite article

     1. We generally use ‘the’ before count nouns—both singular and plural:
            [We have a specific person/thing in mind.]
                The stranger helped the old woman. The strangers helped the old woman.
         Note: It’s possible to say: A stranger helped the old woman.
                  But here the speaker is not referring to any particular person. 

      2. ‘The’ is used when both the speaker and the hearer know the objects being referred
          to (in the immediate situation):    
                 Bring the candle.                                          
                 The roses are very beautiful.                     
                 I missed both the lectures this morning.
                 We returned the video recorder.  
                 Put it on the table
                 I spoke to the airlines.  
     3. ‘The’ is used when there is no doubt about the noun even in a general situation:
                  The Prime Minister is arriving today.
                 The Home Minister is making a statement in the Parliament today. 
     4. ‘The’ is used when there is no doubt about the reference:                                                     
                   I pulled him by the hair.        
                   She patted her on the back.
                   How are the children?
                  The sun rose late today. [similarly, the moon, the earth, the sky, the weather etc.]
      5. ‘The’ is used with expressions relating to
            i. mass communication:
               the nine o’clock news    in the paper(s)     on the radio    on (the) TV  
           ii. transport and communication:
               the bus, the train     the post(BrE)/the mail(AmE)    the telephone
          iii. professional/business establishments:
               the dentist’s/the dentist    the barber’s/the barber     at/to the chemist’s/chemist
               the butcher’s/the butcher   the hairdresser’s/the hairdresser
          iv. ordinals:
               When the first flight to Delhi tomorrow?
               When does the last train for Chennai leave?
               Let’s reat the next chapter.
               My wife and I have the same interests.
               He’s the only survivor.
               Of the three sports magazines available, this is the best.
            v. body parts:
                I gave him a pat on the back.
                I shook him by the hand. (I shook his hand./ I shook hands with him.)
                My wife complains of pain in the hip/knee.
           vi. unpleasant conditions of the body(eg aches, pains, wounds):
                I have a cold in the head.
                He kicked me on the shin.
                He held me by the throat.
                How’s the back?
                Let’s look at the arm.
       6. ‘The’ is used in
                The more, the merrier.  The less said, the better.   The sooner, the better
       7.  We use ‘the’ before nationality names, names of birds or animals when we are
           thinking of them as a category or group:
                  The dog is a faithful animal. (=All dogs are faithful animals.)   
                  The Chinese belong to the yellow race.
                  The fox is believed to be cunning.       

      8. We use ‘the’ before a noun made specific by the addition of a phrase or clause:
                 The water in this well is dirty.
                  The man who is receiving his room key is a suspect in a murder case..         
                     There is the woman (that) I have been talking to you about.
       9. We use ‘the’ before superlative adjectives/adverbs:
                      He works the hardest.  [adverb]
                       Jupiter is the largest planet. [adjective] 

    10. We use ‘the’ before the names of                
           • famous buildings
             The Eiffel Tower     The Great Wall of China
           • rivers, seas, oceans
             The Kaveri    The Godavari    The Ganges  The Amazon
             The Indian Ocean    The Bay of Bengal    The Arabian Sea
           • mountain ranges
             The Himalayas    The Alps
           • groups of islands
              The West Indies
           • certain organizations
             The UNO    The UNESCO
           • political parties
             The DMK      The AIDMK     The Congress Party  The Communist Party
           • countries
              the U.S.A.    the U.K.    the  U.S.S.R.     the U.A.R.  
           • musical instruments
             the violin
           • deserts
              the Kalahari    the Sahara

    11. We ‘the’ before adjectives that refer to people as a group:
               the poor    the rich    the weak     the strong    the sick    the old    the young
              the dead    the blind   the deaf     the innocent   the guilty 

             There are special schools for the blind and the deaf.
             The rich must support the poor.
             The strong must protect the weak.
             The young should respect the old.
           It’s improper to speak ill of the dead.
    12. We use ‘the’ before the name of a person in plural
             [to refer to the family by the name of the husband/father]:
             the Smiths    the Joneses   the Raghavans    the Gopalans

    13. We use ‘the’ before the name of a person with a qualifying phrase:
              I don’t want the Mr Smith of the Accounts Section; I want the Mr Smith of the Sales Section.

     14. We use ‘the’ in certain statements of comparison:
              The more I listen to your father, the more I like him.
              The harder you work, the more you’ll be paid.
              The sooner the work is finished, the better.

  15. We use ‘the’ before the names of ‘people’ of certain countries to refer to them as
              a whole:
              The British          = people from Britain   The Dutch     = people from the Netherlands
       The Chinese        = people from China        The Swiss     = people from Switzerland
              The Japanese      = people from Japan         The Irish      = people form Ireland
          The French         = people from France
1.8 ‘The’ is not used: 
       i. before indefinite or non-specific plural nouns:
               I don’t like strangers.         Women need to be protected.  

      ii. before non-specific non-count nouns:
                Without money we can’t provide education.  People fear death. 
     iii. before non-specific nouns like:
              home    church    chapel     market     school
            He went to the church. [to see the priest, for instance] He went to church. [to pray]
                She didn’t go to college today. [to study]  She went to the college. [to pay fees, for instance]
       iv. before non-specific meals:
              Have you had breakfast?    Let’s have lunch.  I’ve come to invite you for tea.     
        v. before non-specific names of seasons and festivals:
              Winter is a cold season.     We celebrated Ramzan/Christmas/Deepavali.          

    vi.  before predicative superlatives:
            He is happiest when he is working. [very happy]
            Your help was most valuable.  [very/extremely useful]
   vii. before names of languages, months, days that are not modified:
             Can you speak French?   He knows Japanese.   
            January is the first month of the year.  No one works on Sundays.  

  viii. before names of meals used in general sense:
             come to dinner/lunch/tea with us.
    ix. before plural nouns used in a general sense:
             Books are my best friends.  

     x. with words like school, church, prison when the sentences talk about their
              I didn’t go to school yesterday. (to learn)
              They have gone to church.  (to pray)
              The accused was sentenced and sent to prison. (to serve punishment)
              I didn’t go to the school yesterday. (to visit)
              They have gone to the church now. (to visit)
              I went to the prison. (to visit a prisoner)
     xi. with words like cook, nurse, teacher, father when the imply ‘our……’”
              Father said I could play cricket this weekend.
              Teacher was pleased with my performance.
              Coach is unhappy with your bowling. 
     xii. in stock phrases:
              by land/by air/by sea      at daybreak/at sunset      by way of      beyond reach
              in place of     in case of    shake hands with      catch fire     at home 
              out of doors 

1.9 ‘A’ and ‘one’
      The indefinite article ‘a’ these meanings: ‘any’ and ‘one’:
              A triangle has three sides. (=any)
              I have a sister and two brothers. (=one)
      But ‘a’ cannot always be used instead of ‘one’.
           i. ‘a handkerchief’ means ‘any handkerchief’.
              ‘one handkerchief’ means ‘no more than one’.
          ii. ‘a’ is more common in an informal style while ‘one’ is used
              when we are speaking more precisely:
               I want to live for a hundred years.
               The journey took exactly one hundred days. 
         iii. Only ‘one’ can be used to show ‘contrast’:
               A man showed me the way.
               One man said ‘no’, while the others said ‘yes’.
          iv. Only ‘one’ is used when we refer to a particular time:
                I spent a night in Delhi.
               One night there was a terrible storm.