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Everything you need to know about ARTICLES —>

  • There are only three articles: the, a and an. They are very small words which cause very large problems if used incorrectly. If, for example, you wanted someone to hand you the book, but you accidentally said a book, the other person might take some time to go shopping for a book they thought you’d like. While one can never have too many books, work doesn’t get done if we go book shopping every time we need to look up a word in the dictionary. Use of an article can also change the meaning of the noun:

dinner = the evening meal
a dinner = an evening meal held for some kind of event
the dinner = a specific evening meal which was held for some kind of event

Read more from Grammarly >

  • The 3 articles in English are a, an and the. The learner has to decide noun-by-noun which one of the articles to use*. In fact, there are 4 choices to make, because sometimes no article is necessary. Native-speakers, of course, use the articles correctly without thinking in everyday spoken langauge. English learners, on the other hand, need to have some guidelines for making the right choice – particularly those learners whose own language does not have articles, such as Japanese or Korean. The guidelines that follow here should help ESL students to a basic understanding of English article use.

The most important first step in choosing the correct article is to categorize the noun as count or uncount in its context**

Read more from teh Frankfurt International School >



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‘a little’ and ‘little’ & ‘a few’ and ‘few’

We use ‘a/an’ with several quantifiers:
• a little
• a few
• a lot (of)

We also use ‘no article’ with several:
• little
• few
• lots (of)

In many situations, we can choose to use ‘a little’ or ‘little’ (when using an
uncountable noun) or ‘a few’ or ‘few’ (when using a plural countable noun). They
have slightly different meanings. (‘A lot’ and ‘lots’ aren’t like this. ‘A lot’ means the
same as ‘lots’).

When we say ‘a little’ or ‘a few’ we mean a small amount, but it’s enough:
• John: Let’s go out tonight.
• Lucy: Okay. I have a little money, enough for the cinema at least.

On the other hand, ‘little’ or ‘few’ usually give us a different impression. These also
mean a small amount, but this time the amount is almost nothing. If the noun is
something that we want (like money or friends) then using ‘little’ or ‘few’ means that
we don’t have enough:
• John: Let’s go out tonight.
• Lucy: Sorry, I have little money. I really can’t afford to go out.

Of course, if we use ‘few’ or ‘little’ with a noun that we don’t want, then the sentence
can have a positive meaning. It’s good to have nearly no problems, for example:
• There have been few problems with the new system, thankfully!
• Luckily, there is little crime in my town.
• I’m so pleased that I have few arguments with my family.
• It’s great that there’s been very little bad weather this month.

Get the book “A and The Explained” >


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the article ‘the’

The article the can be confusing at times as when or when not to omit.

It is the same for all genders in singular and in plural; the cat, the dog, the computers.


First, determine if the is being used indefinitely or definitely. Life is great. (indefinite) I’ve read the book about the life of Bill Clinton.  (definite)


Names of countries in the singular; summits of mountains; continents; towns;

Germany, France, Mount Whitney, Mount McKinley, Africa, Europe, Cairo, New York


Names of countries in the plural; mountain ranges; regions;

the United States of America, the Netherlands, the Highlands, the Rocky Mountains, the Alps, the Middle East.


Single island; Corfu, Bermuda, Sicily

Groups of islands; the Bahamas, the British Isles, the Canaries


Parks; lakes; streets;

Central Park, Hyde Park, Lake Michigan, Loch Ness, 42nd Street, Oxford Street


Name with of-phrase; oceans; seas; rivers;

the Statue of Liberty, the Tower (of London), the Isle of Wight,

the Atlantic (Ocean), the Mediterranean (Sea), the Nile, the Rhine, the Suez Canal


Months, days of the week (indefinite)

The weekend is over on Monday morning.

July and August are the most popular months for holidays.


Months, days of the week (definite)

I always remember the Monday when I had an accident.

The August of 2001 was hot and dry.


Seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) can be used with or without the definite article;

In summer or in the summer

* The American English word for autumn >fall< is always used with the definite article.