B1 Intermediate UK 1335 Folder Collection
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So another question from students...
This one is asking about articles, specifically the definite article "the."
When we use it and when we don't, specifically with plural nouns.
Thanks for the question.
Really good one and we get, asked a lot about articles.
Articles are very confusing for students because some languages don't use them, and the ones which do, don't usually have the same rules as us.
So, let's start with the easy one, the indefinite articles "a" and "an."
These are easy.
You have a singular countable noun.
You put "a" or "an" in front of the noun.
For example, one iPhone, an iPhone.
Poof, a fairy.
Why are you here, again?
You're always here ruining the lesson.
Yeah.
No one likes you.
But yeah, I suppose, I mean, you can count that.
One fairy, two fairies...
Really?
Sick.
Okay, so one fairy is a fairy.
Hello, mate.
That's your first rule.
A singular countable noun we use "a" or "an."
Another rule for the indefinite articles "a" and "an."
Remember, these are indefinite or nonspecific.
When you mention something for the first time in a story, the listener doesn't specifically know which object you're talking about, so we use that.
Again, for singular countable nouns.
For example, I met a girl yesterday.
I killed a fairy today.
Wait, what?
We use "the," the definite article, when we're talking about a specific group of something or one singular noun, which is specific and we both know which noun and we're talking about.
So for example, I killed a fairy today.
We both don't know which fairy.
In the second sentence, I'm referencing the same fairy again.
So I say, I killed a fairy today.
I killed the fairy, the fairy, because it was stupid.
I'm not dead... pretty hurt though.
That's blood, yep, I'm bleeding.
Call me an ambulance.
So that's with singular countable nouns.
We're being general, we use "a."
We're being specific, we use "the."
But your question is about plural nouns and when we use and don't use "the."
Easy, you just have to apply that logic to plural nouns.
Remember with singular nouns, we were being general we used "a."
Where we were being specific, "the."
With plural nouns, it's the same logic.
When we talk about a specific group we use "the."
Example...
Uh, let's see.
Russian people are very nice.
But the Russian people I've met...
Specific group.
The Russian people I've met are crazy.
I'm joking Russians, you're cool.
Another example: Babies are very annoying.
Babies are very annoying.
So I'm being general.
When it's a plural noun, we don't use any article.
Remember single nouns we used "a" for a general situation?
Plural nouns, we don't use any article if we're being general.
Babies are annoying.
However, the babies in my family are very cute.
I said the babies because this is a specific group of babies.
General: no article.
Specific group: the.
That's with plural nouns.
Remember again with singular nouns.
General : "a."
Specific: "the."
Plural nouns...
General : no article.
Specific : "the."
We use this one we want to indicate a specific group or a specific thing which we both understand.
Another example with babies.
Imagine you're sitting on a plane and you feel this...
The baby behind me is very annoying.
I say "the" because we both understand which baby.
I wouldn't say, for example, "A baby behind me is annoying."
No, I'm not being general.
I'm being specific.
There are many more rules with articles, and I think we'll do another one later explaining all of the rules.
But I hope that answers your question on plural nouns and when we use and don't use the definite article "the."
Bye bye.
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A, AN, THE - Articles in English

1335 Folder Collection
Annie Chien published on December 10, 2019    Karen translated    Evangeline reviewed
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