Articles in English

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Now in this story you will see many different uses of the articles. First I will give you some brief notes on when to use the definite article "the" and when not and also when to use the indefinite article "a/an" and again when not. Afterwards you can read the story.

Articles — both definite and indefinite

Indefinite — a, an

  • Before a singular noun which is countable when it is mentioned for the first time and represents no particular person or thing.
    "A horse is a noble animal."
  • Before a singular countable noun which is used as an example of a class of things.
    "A book is something you read."
  • With a noun complement, including names of professions.
    "She is a doctor, he became a famous actor."
  • In certain numerical expressions.
    "a dozen, a hundred"
  • In expressions of price, speed, ratio.
    "60 miles an hour, 4 hours a day, 30p a box"
  • With "few" and "little"
    "a few people, a little sugar"
  • In exclamations before singular, countable nouns. "What a pity! What a sunny day!"
  • It can be placed before Mr., Mrs, Miss, Ms + surname.
    "a Mr. Brown phoned today."

Not Used
  • Before plural nouns.
    "Horses are noble animals."
  • Before uncountable nouns
    "Milk is good for you."
  • Before abstract nouns.
    "Fear is natural."
  • Before names of meals except when preceded by an adjective.
    "We had a late breakfast and decided to miss lunch."

Definite — the

  • Before nouns of which there is only one.
    "The earth is round."
  • Before a noun which has become definite as a result of being mentioned a second time.
    "We saw a good film last night. It was the film you recommended."
  • Before a noun made definite by the addition of a phrase or clause.
    "The woman dressed in black."
  • Before a noun which, by reason of locality, can represent only one particular thing.
    "There’s a bee in the kitchen."
  • Before superlatives and "first", "second" and "only"
    "The longest river in the world."
  • Before singular nouns used to represent a class of objects.
    "The donkey is a very obstinate animal."
  • Before an adjective used to represent a class of persons.
    "That tax hurts the rich."
  • Before names of seas, rivers, chains of mountains, groups of islands and plural names of countries.
    "the Pacific Ocean, the Thames, the Andes, the West Indies, the Netherlands"
  • Before musical instruments.
    "She plays the piano"

Not Used
  • Before countries, towns, proper names.
    "Charlie lived in Chicago in America"
  • Before abstract nouns.
    "Jealousy can be dangerous."
  • Before parts of the body and articles of clothing — these normally prefer a possessive adjective.
    "Lift your left arm."
    "He removed his hat."

"Charlie the Brave"

Charlie is a teacher and his wife, Maria is an artist. One of the main differences between the two is that Charlie has no imagination well perhaps a little whereas Maria has the most vivid imagination you could think of.
Now imagination is an essential quality if you’re an artist but sometimes it can lead to problems. Take the night before last, for example. It was a fine summer night and you could see the moon and the stars quite clearly, it was shortly before the longest day of the year. Charlie was sitting in a deckchair enjoying the warm summer air when he felt something touch his shoulder; it was Maria’s hand and he could tell immediately she was a little worried about something. He had noticed this sensation a hundred times before. He asked her what the matter was and she replied that there was a strange thing on the jacket that was hanging in the bedroom. Now you must remember that they had both lived in the West Indies and had seen a lot of strange creatures in their house before. But now they were living in England and so Charlie just laughed and said he would have a look at the "thing".

He left the garden and made his way to the bedroom. He could see a jacket hanging in the bedroom and went up to it to have a closer look at the"thing". The moment he touched it, the thing sprang into life. Now Charlie experiences fear like the rest of us but when this creature opened its wings, he jumped out of his skin and ran screaming from the room like a small child doing about 100 miles an hour.

What a fuss you may say and the brave among you may well regard such behaviour as pathetic but bats (for this thing was a bat) bring out the worst in many people. For a moment the next-door neighbours thought that Charlie was murdering his wife because of the noise they could hear. In fact the bat was the one that was frightened and it fluttered its wings and flew from one side of the bedroom to the other.
Eventually Charlie managed to trap the bat in a box and went out into thefront garden clutching the box as if it had a bomb inside it, took off the lid and the bat, obviously delighted to be free, flew away into the dark. Eventually Maria, who had been playing the guitar while Charlie was upstairs, asked Charlie if he had found out what the thing was. "Oh, nothing to worry about", he said casually hoping that the terror could not be seen in his eyes, "it was just a bat."

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Author: Alan Townend