Easy Learning English Grammar

Collins Easy Learning English Grammar is an accessible guide to English grammar and punctuation. With clear, concise explanations on everything from adverbs to word order, and from apostrophes to semicolons, it is indispensable for understanding correct usage. Each grammatical and punctuation point is clearly described in a user-friendly format that combines explanations with examples from modern English.

Articles 1

There are lots of rules about the use of articles. Here we’ll concentrate on 3 golden rules. Most mistakes with articles are made through breaking one of these rules.

Read the grammar explanation and do the exercise.

There are lots of rules about the use of articles. Here we’ll concentrate on 3 golden rules. Most mistakes with articles are made through breaking one of these rules.

1. When we say what people’s jobs are, we use a/an

  • She’s an architect.
  • He’s a doctor.
  • My grandfather was a teacher.

2. Singular, countable nouns always have an article – a/an or the – or another determiner (my, your, this, that etc.)

Remember that we use the indefinite article – a/an – when we talk about something that is not definite.

  • I saw a good film yesterday. The listener doesn’t know which film.
  • There’s a man at the door. We don’t know who the man is.
  • Do you want a drink? It’s not a particular drink.

… and we use the definite article – the – when we talk about something more certain.

  • I’m going to take the dog for a walk. The dog is a pet – it’s not just any dog.
  • Have you seen the car key? Speaker and listener know which car. It’s not just any car.
  • They live in the house opposite ours. There’s only one house opposite. It’s not any house.

3.  When we talk about things in general we usually use a plural noun or an uncountable noun with no article.

  • Birds eat worms. NOT The birds eat the worms.
  • Water flows downhill.
  • Kangaroos live in Australia.

BUT We went to the zoo and saw the kangaroos. These are particular kangaroos – not kangaroos in general.

There are many other rules about articles but remembering these 3 golden rules will reduce the number of mistakes you make.