Use of Articles common noun or noun phrase Uncountable Countable Singular Plural the (specific) zero (Ø) (generic) a/an (non-specific) the (specific) the Ø
Articles • Are used with certain categories of proper nouns • Are used with common nouns or noun phrases • Consist of the indefinite article (a/an) and the definite article (the) • Are absent in non-specific cases and are indicated by the Ø (zero article)
Rules for Using Articles • These categories of proper nouns do not require “the” Categories People’s names Cities and states Singular names of countries Months/days Streets Religious buildings Mountains Parks Lakes Examples John Locke Bangkok, Negri Sembilan Indonesia, Australia May, Tuesday Pickering Street, Holland Road St. Andrew’s Cathedral Mount Fuji Hyde Park Lake Victoria
Rules for Using Articles • The proper nouns below require “the”. Categories Museums and galleries Buildings Highways Seas and oceans Rivers and deserts Periods and events in history Bridges Countries with United, Union, Kingdom, Republic Island groups ending in (e)s Examples the Asian Civilization Museum the University Cultural Centre the Pan-Island Expressway the South China Sea the Mississippi, the Gobi desert the Dark Ages the Manhattan Bridge the United States, the People’s Republic of China the Philippines
Rules for Using Articles • Depend on generic or specific reference Comment on the use of the articles in the sentences below. A paper on global warming was presented at a conference. The paper on global warming was presented at the conference.
Specific Reference • Is recognizable by both the writer and the reader through shared knowledge. The sun rises in the east. (Fact) The lab report should be submitted today. (Both the writer and the reader know which lab report is being referred to.)
Specific Reference • Is used after a general reference is made. EG1471 students are required to write an essay in the semester. The essay will be revised a few times.
Specific Reference • Is used when the noun has been modified by an adjectival phrase or clause. The portfolios that students have to prepare consist of different assignments.
Nonspecific and Generic References • Happen when neither the writer nor the reader identify the noun as something known, unique or familiar. Ø University students receive Ø tuition grants for their studies.
Nonspecific and Generic Reference • Use a/an with a singular countable noun that is non-specific. An engineering textbook was left at the counter. A lecturer gave the freshmen an overview of the course.
Use of A and An • Depends on
Nonspecific and Generic Reference • Do not use an article when a plural countable noun is non-specific. ØGraduates are held in high esteem by Øemployers.
Nonspecific and Generic Reference • Do not use an article when an uncountable noun is non-specific. The internet is a rich resource of Øinformation.
Nonspecific and Generic Reference • Do not use an article when a generalization is made about an uncountable noun. ØWater is scarce in many countries. Ø Oil is a finite resource.
Abstract Generic: The Entire Class The wasp can detect unique volatile compounds overgreat distances. The laser has many uses in medicine. The computer has been invaluable in scientific advancement. Concrete Generic: A Representative Class A wasp can be trained to detect odors. A laser can be used by a surgeon to make very clean cuts. Computers are playing a growing role in all aspects of university life Abstract Generic vs. Concrete Generic Source: Swales & Feak (2009), 299.
Superlatives, Ordinals and Sole References • The definite article“the” is always used with the above categories. Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. (superlative) Statistics is the second most difficult subject. (ordinal) The main(only/sole/chief) reason I do engineering is to contribute to mankind. (sole reference)
Sources Lane, A. and Lange, E. (1999). Writing Clearly: An Editing Guide (2nd ed.). Boston: Heinle and Heinle Publishers, 198-209. Raimes, A. (2006). Grammar Troublespots: A Guide for Student Writers (3rd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press, 98-105. Swales, J.M. and Feak, C.B. (2009). Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills (2nd ed.). USA: The University of Michigan Press, 289-301.