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Understanding of Articles will improve your language skills

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Published: Wednesday, 29 June, 2016 9:00 AM

Understanding of Articles will improve your language skills

An article is a kind of determiner which is always used with and gives some information about a noun. They specify the definiteness of the noun. Every noun must be accompanied by the article, if any, corresponding to its definiteness, and the lack of an article itself specifies a certain definiteness. Given the frequency with which they appear, these words are certainly indispensable to the language.

There are three articles used in English language - 

Indefinite Articles- Indefinite articles, ‘a’ and ‘an’ signify that the nouns they are attached to re countable.

i. a- used with words starting with consonant sounds, for example, a doctor, a boy, a table.

ii. an- used with words starting with vowel sounds, for example, an engineer, an orange, an honest man, an apple.

Definite Article- There is only one definite article, 'the'. It is used before a noun when we believe the listener knows exactly what we referring to, for instance, the table (over there). Definite article is also used with countries whose names include words like kingdom, states or republic-the United Kingdom and with mountain ranges, group of islands, rivers, seas, oceans, canals, newspapers, organisations and superlatives.

Articles are important in English as they provide certain information about the noun they precede. 

1. Structure

Articles are necessary as they help in completing the structure of the sentence. For instance, ‘Where is dog?’ lacks a sense of completion because an article is missing. It leaves the sentence vague. Adding the article ‘the’ before dog will complete the sentence and give it a sense of definiteness.

2. Grammar

Articles are crucial to make a sentence grammatically correct. For instance, 
‘Dog eat my file’- In this sentence, though the meaning is clear to the reader that the file was eaten by a dog, but the sentence is not well constructed because it lacks an article. ‘A dog eat my file’ is a grammatically sound sentence instead.  

3. Meaning

Articles shape the meaning of a sentence, to an extent. They help in conveying the intended meaning of a sentence to the readers. Understanding the use of articles can help understand the sentence in depth. New information is usually signalled by the indefinite article, for instance, ‘A cat appeared in the window’ and old or previously mentioned information is usually signalled by the definite article, for instance, ‘The cat belonged to my neighbour.’

4. Inform about nouns

Articles come before nouns and modify them. They reveal valuable information about the nouns which help understand the sentence better. For instance, ‘The criminal had a gun’ clarifies that the criminal had only one gun and ‘the’ points to a specific criminal. They are used to differentiate between things or ideas, usually expressed by nouns. For instance,
‘Please hand me the book on the table’ (implies a specific book kept on a specific table).
‘Please hand me a book’ (implies that any book will do).

Articles are an integral part of the English language. They add to the correctness of the language. Aspirants should be mindful of the correct usage of articles as wrong articles not only leave a bad impression but also impact the meaning of the sentence.

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