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Many people do not think about the correct use of articles. Everyone remembers words and phrases and does not think why it is necessary to use this or that article. Because of this, people often make speech mistakes. It would seem that there is nothing wrong with this if it was a question of everyday communication. However, if you are engaged in writing academic papers, you should use the articles correctly. This is the indicator of your literacy. In fact, it is not difficult at all to understand how to use them properly. Here are the basic rules that will help you not get confused with the articles.
The Use of Indefinite and Definite Articles
The Role of the Indefinite Article in Speech
If you do not understand when you need to apply the article "a" or "an," you should remember only one basic rule. Of course, there are many exceptions and different moments, but this linguistic principle can explain the whole essence and main function of these words. You do not need to re-read many books on grammar in the hope of finding the answer. Remember just one thing – the indefinite article is used when the speaker has in mind an indefinite, generalized object or being. For example, your friend asks you: "Give me, an apple, please." In this case, he or she does not speak about any particular apple but asks you to bring any apple. Here is another example, your mother came home and said: "A dog is running around our house." You do not know what dog it is, who is its owner; it is just one dog of thousands of dogs in this world.
The difference between the articles "a" and "an" is indicated only in the fact that "an" is used before words that begin with vowels, and "a" appears before those words that begin with consonants. Knowing this simple rule, you can avoid many speech errors.
Rules of the Usage of the Definite Article
In order to understand the difference between the articles "a," "an," and "the," draw an analogy between them. It was said that the indefinite article refers to something indefinite, unconfined, generalized, therefore, it can be concluded that the definite article, on the contrary, refers to some specific and known subject or phenomenon. Here is an example: imagine that you are playing football with your brother and he asks you: "Give me the ball, please." The speaker has in mind a specific, one single ball on the field and you both understand what kind of ball he needs. The article "the" is also used if you talk about something several times in one text. For example, "My friend bought a book, and it turned out to be interesting. I asked him to give me the book for a few days.” We have already learned about the book from the first sentence here, so it is necessary to use the definite article every time while talking about this book again.