Articles: Definite & Indefinite

Objectives of today’s lesson:

In this lesson, Learn English with Julia presents to you “Articles: definite and indefinite”, in order to be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are the definite and indefinite articles in English?
  • What is the meaning of definite and indefinite articles?
  • What are definite articles and indefinite articles?
  • How to use definite and indefinite articles.

Video Script:

Hello and welcome back!
Let’s look at some examples
on the indefinite article and the definite articles.
Here are some examples written
with some nouns
which can be combined with articles
and also some caveats.
Especially with the indefinite article.
And here some more examples,
because it is a little more complicated with the definite article.
And here, just to help you out with
the nuances of the indefinite article
I have written the phonetic transcription
of the “difficult cases”.
Let’s start with the indefinite article.
“A”
It must be followed by a consonant sound,
therefore, B, C and J,
then / b /, / k /, and / dʒ / in this case,
So BOY, CAT, JOB
“AN” has to be followed by a vowel sound
AN APPLE, AN ORANGE
Be careful when we have an “H”
because it can be either pronounced or silent.
This is where this transcript can be very useful,
A HOSPITAL / ˈhɒspɪtl / as you can see
begins with a consonant sound.
HOUSE (home) / haʊs / same thing.
This is the phonetic transcription here.
Be careful, AN HOUR / ˈaʊə /
begins with a vowel sound.
Does not work with “A”, it works with “AN”.
And watch out for another mistake
it is not related to phonetics,
It has to do with number,
so do not forget that this article here,
the indefinite article,
it can only be followed by singular nouns
no plurals.
So you can not say * A HOSPITALS, okay?
Unlike in Spanish for example.
In Spanish you can use the indefinite article both singular and plural,
so be careful with that.
And here, AN, AN HONOR, AN HOUR
AN HEIR and AN HONEST PERSON
for example.
Here is the phonetic transcription of these four words
starting with H but we that are pronounced with a vowel sound.
“Honor” the “h” is not pronounced / ˈɒnə /
Let’s see where it is, here / ɒnəʳ /
I have not followed the order, / ˈɒnə /
HOUR / ˈaʊə /
and this is … here / ˈaʊə /
Heir / eə /, which is here / eə /
HONEST /ˈɒnɪst /
and here / juː /, here is another scenario to consider,
If the noun starts with a vowel, it does not necessarily mean
it is a vowel sound so here
US is written with vowel but is pronounced with a consonant sound
/ juː /
So,
A US CITIZEN (an American citizen),
no *AN US CITIZEN.
So be careful there.
And
A HOSPITAL
not *AN HOSPITAL.
These rules are to be read together.
We don’t have a silent “H”, we have a pronounced “H”
So we need “A”
and here we have the vowel sound, the H is silent
so we must use AN.
Ok?
Ultimately, this is all we need to know in connection with the indefinite article.

Let’s address the definite article and when to omit it.
When we have no article.
When we have what is known as “the article zero”.
Let’s find out now.
Here we can use THE
with common nouns or proper nouns
whether singular or plural.
THE BOY, THE APPLE
And when we omit the article.
RICE, WHEAT, SILVER
These are my first three examples.
When to use THE and when not to use it?
We’ll be jumping from one column to another, so pay attention.
THE → NAMES OF HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS
For example,
THE RITZ
is the name of a hotel
or a restaurant.
However, if the owner’s name is contained in the name of the hotel or restaurant
such as FRED’S (that could be a restaurant)
We do not use an article,
Therefore, we would say THE RITZ
y Ø FRED’S.
Second case.
THE → in front of a plural noun in a proper noun.
Therefore, if there is a plural noun in a noun group
We use an article before.
For example, the Philippines.
Or for families, we would say THE SIMPSONS.
However, we do not use the article before a proper noun
WILLIAM
Or
SIMPSON, if we refer to a specific member of that family.
So, WILLIAM, SIMPSON,
THE PHILIPPINES and THE SIMPSONS.
Third scenario:
THE → REPUBLIC, STATE, kingdom, land is within the name
we need an article before. For instance:
THE UNITED STATES
However, we do not place an article in front of countries and cities in general.
We say: France
Paris
NAMES OF NEWSPAPERS →
The Guardian, The Times.
There is no article in book titles:
Harry Potter.
→ BUILDINGS, WORKS OF ART:
The Empire State Building, The Shard.
THE is not used for specific buildings or locations.
Thus WESTMINSTER ABBEY or Parliament Square.
→ ORGANISATIONS require an article
For example,
THE UNITED NATIONS
THE RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
→ Ordinal Numbers:
We would say: THE FIRST, THE Twenty-First…
→ Superlatives:
THE BEST, THE WORST, THE MOST INTERESTING…
→ Geography:
We need an article for geographical features.
So, we would say The Mississippi River, The Thames (The River Thames)

Well, this is all you need to know about articles.
Get some practice!
And come and see me again / Watch this video again if you need to!
Thanks for watching!

Grammar Quiz:

Keywords listed in English:

  • articles
  • definite articles
  • indefinite articles
  • omission of the article
  • consonant sounds
  • vowel sounds
  • the article ‘zero’ (no article)
  • common nouns v proper nouns


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