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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Articles (a, an, the) - Lesson 1 - 7 Rules For Using Articles Correctly - English Grammar

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Hello and welcome.

In this lesson, I will teach you the

seven rules that you need to know for using articles in

English correctly.

Articles are the wordsa’, ‘an’, andthe’.

There is a final quiz at the end of the lesson for you to

test your understanding.

OK, the first rule is about where to useaand where to


So rule number one is useabefore a consonant

sound, andanbefore a vowel sound.

So in all of these wordsyou see that they start with a

consonant sound.

Cat starts with /k/, dog

starts with /d/, boy with /b/, girl with /g/, house with /h/

and tree with /t/.

So we saya cat’, ‘a dog’, ‘a boy’, ‘a girl’, ‘a house’, ‘a


Notice that in natural speech, we dont say

a’, we sayuh’ – likea cat’.

In this next set of words, you see that, they all start with a

vowel soundapple starts with /ae/, engineer starts with /e/,

ice-cream with /ai/, old with /o/, umbrella with /uh/.

So we sayan apple’, ‘an engineer’, ‘an ice-cream cone’,

an old woman’, ‘an umbrellaand so on.

In speech, we dont sayan’, we sayn/.

Lets do a small exercise.

You see ten items on the screen.

For each one, I want you to say if you would useaoran

before it.

Stop the video, think about it, then play the

video again and check.

OK here are the answers.

Did you get them all right?

I want to focus on items number seven

to ten because these are a little tricky.

Number seven isa universitybecause even

thoughuniversitystarts with the letteruthe first sound

of the word is not a vowel sound.

We dont say /ooniversity/.

We say /yoo-nə- vər-si-ty/ so that first sound

is a /y/ sound, which is a consonant sound, so we saya


Number eight is similar.

The wordEuropeanstarts with a

/y/ sound, soa European tour.’

In number nine, the spelling has anhat the start but

thathis silent.

We dont say /haur/, we say /aur/.

The first sound is an /au/ sound which is a vowel sound,

so this isan hour’.

In the same way, in number ten, we say


Mstarts with an /e/ sound which is again a vowel

sound, soan MA in English’.

OK lets move on to rule number two: UseaandanONLY with

singular, countable nouns.

We say that a noun is countable if we can count itone, two,

three, four etc.

All of these words on the screen are countable.

We can say one elephant, three cars,

ten teachers, five hundred onions and so on.

Now if you talk about one person or thing,

like one elephant or one car, then thats called a

singular noun and if you say ten teachers or five hundred

onions, those are called plural nouns.

Uncountable nouns cannot be counted in this way.

Nouns like water, sugar, milk, love,

anger, knowledge are some examples.

If you think about it, you cannot sayI drank

four watersorI want eight milks”.

To a person, you can sayI love youbut you cant

sayI have five loves for you” – that doesnt make any sense.

So these are all uncountable.

Alright, so the rule is - you can only useaandanif

youre talking about one person or one thing.

Lets do another quick exercise.

Here are ten items again.

This time, you seeaoranbefore the nouns, but

some of these are wrong.

They should NOT haveaoran

before them.

Stop the video, identify the mistakes, then

play the video again and check.

OK, here are the answers.

Number three is wrong becauseshirtsis a plural and you

cannot useaoranbefore a plural noun.

Number five is wrong becausehappinessis

uncountable, so again, ‘aorancannot be used there.

The same goes for number six

water is uncountable.

Number nine is wrong becausedoctors

is a pluralyou can saya doctorbut nota doctors’.

And finally, in number ten, advice is an uncountable noun

so you cannot ask foran advice’.

Now a quick note here: the articlethecan be used with

all kinds of nounssingular or plural countable nouns, and

uncountable nouns.

OK, so lets now talk about how to choose betweenaoran


Heres rule number three: Useaoranto talk about a

person or thing unknown to your listener.

And usetheto talk about a person or thing known

to your listener.

For example, “My sister has two computers: a PC and a laptop.

The PC is quite old but the laptop is brand new.”

I saya PCanda laptopbecause

thats the first time Im mentioning the two computers.

That is, until this point, they are unknown to you, the


But now, I can sayThe PC is quite old but the

laptop is brand new.”

When I saythe PC’, you know which

one Im talking about: my sisters PC.

And the same thing goes for the laptop.

So the PC and the laptop are now known to


In English, ‘aandanare called indefinite articles

because they talk about something that the listener

doesnt know about.

Andtheis called the definite article

because the listener knows what you are referring to.

Heres another example: but now, can you fill in the gaps?

Its pretty simple: the first time I mention my tree, Im

going to saya tree’: so, “I planted a tree in my garden

last year.”

Now you know about the tree, so I can sayThe

tree has now grown big.”

Now this was easy because we were talking about one tree.

But what if I planted two, three or four trees?

Well you know that we cannot useaor

anwith plurals.

But we can mention the exact number.

We can sayI planted four trees

in my garden last year.”

Or if I dont want to say the number,

I can sayI planted some trees.”

And then I can sayThe trees have now grown big.”

Thesimply means that you know which trees Im talking


In both of these examples, we first introduce something with

aoranorsomeand then we saythebecause the

listener knows about them.

But sometimes, you dont needa

oranbecause your listener will automatically understand

what you are referring to.

For example, “Can you open the window?”

If were sitting in a room, and if I say this to you,

you will know which window Im talking about.

Or if I said, “I need to go back home.

I think I left the stove on.”

That means, the stove might still be

burning, but which stove?

Well, you can understand from the

situation that I mean the stove in my house.

But this isnt always possible.

For example, if I sayThe man is my boss.”

You will ask – “Which man is your boss?”

Its confusing.

But what about if I sayThe man in the grey suit

is my boss.”

you know which one Im talking about.

So here, we mention a noun withthe’ –

the man’ – and then we give information to identify that

noun – ‘in the grey suit’.

Heres one final example: “Wheres the money I lent you

last week?”

So I start withWheres the moneyand then I

say which money – ‘the money that I lent you last week’.

OK, lets now talk about rule number four: useaoranto

talk about nonspecific things or people.

What does that mean?

Well, heres an example: “Do you have

a pencil?”

If I ask you this question, then it probably

means I need a pencil to write with.

Now I saya pencilbecause I meanany pencil’ - I

dont care about any one specific pencil.

Compare this to the next sentence: “Do you

have the pencil that Kathy gave you?”

Here, Im referring to a specific pencil.

Heres another example, “I want to buy an apartment” ‘An

apartmentmeans I havent decided which apartment.

Maybe I havent even started looking

for one, but I just know that I want to buy some apartment.

But look at this next sentence: “I

want to buy the apartment that we visited.”

So you know which apartment Im talking about.

And heres one last example, “If youre feeling sick, you

should go and see a doctor.”

Maybe youre saying this to give advice to a friend who

isnt feeling very well.

Here, we dont mean go and see a

specific doctorwe mean any doctor.

But lets say your friend takes your advice and

goes to a doctor.

When you see your friend again, you might

askWhat did the doctor say?”

Why are we sayingthe doctor’?

Because we mean that specific doctor who the friend visited.

So, notice again that we useaoranwhen were talking

about a person or thing in general, and not a specific

person or thing (for that, we usethe’).

Alright, lets move on to rule number five now: useaor

anto mention the category or type of a person or thing.

To understand this, I have a small exercise for you.

All of these sentences mention a

category of type of a person or thing.

But theyre missing the articles.

I want you to putaoranin the correct place in

each of these sentences.

Stop the video, think about your

answers, then play the video again and check.

OK, in number one - “My car is a 2011 Ford Fusion.”

So here, I mentionmy carand then I

tell you the model of the car – ‘2011 Ford Fusion’ – that is

basically the type of car that it is.

So we useabefore it.

Number two isYou can use your TV as a laptop monitor.”

Here, the noun phraselaptop

monitorsays what type of thing your TV can be used as.

In number three, “Jims daughter is an intelligent


We say what type of girl she is – ‘an intelligent girl’.

Number four isId like to become a member of your


After the verbbecomeyou see that Im

saying what category I want to belong to – ‘member of the


For this reason, ‘a member’.

We talk about professions in the same way: “Im a teacher.”

(NOTIm teacher”).

A persons profession says what category

they belong to, or what type of person they are.

So, you need to haveaoranbefore the


Similarly, “He worked as a cashier for two


So to mention a type or category, useaoran’.

Alright, lets now turn to rule number six.

This rule is about how to make generalizations.

That is, how to talk generally about a whole group or class of

people or things.

So rule number six is generalize with plurals or

uncountable nouns with no article.

On the screen, there are six sentences.

Id like you to find all the plural and uncountable


Stop the video, do the exercise, then play the video

again and check.

OK, in number one, there are two plurals: ‘teachersand


Here, we are not talking about any one teacher

or one student in particular.

Were saying that all teachers should be friendly to all


In number two, ‘dolphinsis a plural noun.

Were using it to say, generally, that all

dolphins are intelligent.

In number three, ‘horror movies

is what Im generalizing about.

Im saying I hate all horror moviesnot a particular one.

In sentence number four, ‘coffeeis an uncountable

noun, and we use no article before it because, again, we

want to ask if Pablo likes coffee in general.

Number five has two uncountable nouns in


We dont use any articles before

them because this is a general statement of fact or truth.

And finally, number six is the same

kind of sentenceit also has two uncountable nouns


Now this is the common way of generalizing.

But theres one another way of doing it.

With countable nouns, you can

generalize by usingaoranwith a singular countable noun

to mean every single onethat is every member of a group.

For example: “A teacher should be friendly to his or her


It has the roughly same meaning as when we say

teachersbut its slightly different because its like

sayingEvery teacher should be friendly to his or her


Heres one more example: “The dolphin is a very

intelligent animal.”

Again, same meaning as saying

Dolphinsbut we meanevery dolphin’.

So remember that this formgeneralizing witha’, ‘anor

thecan only be used with singular countable nouns AND

when we meanevery single one’.

So I cannot sayI dont enjoy watching a horror movie

or the horror movie.”

Here, only the plural form is


Its the same thing with all the other sentences.

OK, lets now talk about rule number seven: and that is where

to use NO article.

This is very important and this is one place where mistakes are

very common because there are many situations where you

should NOT use an article.

In a separate lesson we will focus

on all of these situations but heres a short list.

We use NO article in front of proper nounsthat is names of

people or places.

We dont saya Steve’, ‘the Priyaetc.

We just say their names without


Its the same thing for places.

However, some place names havetheas part of the name.

Such as the United States, the

United Kingdom and so on.

With these, of course, you must use


We also usually use no article with names of games and


Then there are many fixed expressions that have no

articleyou have to learn these through experience and

practice to use them correctly.

You see some of these on the screen.

Its a good idea for you to memorize as many of

these as possible.

Alright, if youre ready, now its time for a quiz to see if

you can use articles correctly.

On the screen, you see some sentences with blanks in them.

In each blank, I want you to puta’, ‘an’, ‘theorno


That symbola zero with a line through it is just

to sayno article’.

OK, stop the video, try the exercise,

then play the video and check.

OK, here are the answers.

You can stop the video and check

them with your answers if you like.

In the comments section, let me know how you many got


If youre not sure about any of these, feel free

to ask me in the comments and I will help you out.

Alright, I hope you enjoyed this lesson.

If you liked this video, hit the like button.

Dont forget to subscribe to this channel by clicking that

subscribe button.

And I will see you in the next lesson


The Description of Articles (a, an, the) - Lesson 1 - 7 Rules For Using Articles Correctly - English Grammar