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Grammar 01 - Determiners - Articles 1
"Can you pass me the salt please," or
"Can you pass me a salt please"?

Grammar 01 - Determiners - Articles 1

English is a precise language with many conventions of grammar that must be followed by its practitioners so that they can understand one another and communicate effectively. The language comprises many elements, or parts of speech, which are vital. Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs, Prepositions, Adjectives, Adverbs, Conjunctions, Interjections and Articles are all parts of speech that are extremely important. In the next four High English quizzes we will learn more about definite and indefinite articles and how they can be used to communicate more effectively and precisely.

Articles can be grouped under a broader term called determiners. Determiners, as the name suggests, help to determine the identity of things, places or names. These are all nouns, so determiners are used to modify nouns.

Not only nouns, but also noun phrases, can be modified by determiners. In the next two grammar quizzes we shall look at articles as qualifiers of nouns. Look at the following two sentences:

‘The house that I visited today is Mustaq’s.’
‘A house with a single storey is called a single-storied house.’

In the sentences you find the articles used to modify the nouns are different. In the first sentence ‘the’ is used before ‘house’ and in the second sentence ‘a’ is used before ‘house.’ In the first sentence, you can see that the reference is to a particular house that a person visits and hence the use of the definite article, ‘the’. In the second sentence, the reference is to any house and the indefinite article, ‘a’, is used. Thus, ‘the’ is the definite article and ‘a’ is the indefinite article. Of course, when a noun starts with its first letter as a vowel you would use the article ‘an’ instead of ‘a’. Take the grammar quiz that follows and learn to use the appropriate articles.

1.
Choose the sentence with the correct usage of the article.
South Africa, the country in the Southern Hemisphere, is a largest producer of diamonds.
Can you pass me a salt please?
The book that I want is 'The Guide' by R K Narayan, get me a book.
All of the above are wrong.
In option 1, the articles need to be interchanged, that is, the sentence should have been 'South Africa, a country in the Southern Hemisphere, is the largest producer of diamonds'. Options 2 and 3 should have used the definite article 'the'
2.
Choose the sentence with the correct usage of the article.
1947 is a year in which India attained independence.
1947 is an year in which India attained independence.
1947 is the year in which India attained independence.
1947 is year in which India attained independence.
India attained independence in a specific year and hence the definite article 'the' is used to modify the year
3.
Choose the sentence with the correct usage of the article, to refer to one particular dog.
A dog in my neighbour's house is an alsatian.
An dog in my neighbour's house is an alsatian.
Dog in my neighbour's house is an alsatian.
The dog in my neighbour's house is an alsatian.
The definite article 'the' is used because we are talking of a specific dog in a specific house. Option 1 would be correct if we know that the neighbour has more than one dog. The other options do not fit the context of the sentences
4.
Choose the sentence with the correct usage of the article.
New-Delhi is the capital of India.
New-Delhi is a capital of India.
New-Delhi is an capital of India.
New-Delhi is capital of India.
The definite article 'the' is used here because we are talking of a specific capital city of a specific country. The other options do not fit the context of the sentences
5.
Choose the sentence with the correct usage of the article, to refer to ice cream parlours in general.
Ice-cream parlour sells more ice cream in summer.
A ice-cream parlour sells more ice cream in summer.
The ice-cream parlour sells more ice cream in summer.
An ice-cream parlour sells more ice cream in summer.
In the context of the sentence we are talking of any ice-cream parlour and hence the article 'an' is used. Note that 'an' is used as the noun starts with its first letter with a vowel. Option 3 would be correct if we were referring to a particular ice-cream parlour. Option 1 would be correct if we had used 'ice-cream parlours'. Option 2 should have used 'an'
6.
Choose the sentence with the correct usage of the article.
Karnataka is an important state in India.
Karnataka is a important state in India.
Karnataka is important state in India.
Karnataka is the important state in India.
The indefinite article 'an' is used as Karnataka is one of the many states in India
7.
Choose the sentence with the correct usage of the article.
An example helps us to understand a concept better.
Is there a gym near your house?
Is there an library near your school?
Options 1 and 2 are correct but option 3 is wrong.
Option 3 would have been correct if we had used 'a' instead of 'an'. In all the cases we use the indefinite article as we are not specific and we could be looking at any example, any concept, any gym or any library
8.
Choose the sentence with the correct usage of the article.
America relies on an type of coffee produced in Brazil for its coffee beverages.
America relies on a type of coffee produced in Brazil for its coffee beverages.
America relies on the type of coffee produced in Brazil for its coffee beverages.
America relies on type of coffee produced in Brazil for its coffee beverages.
In the context of the sentence we are talking of a specific type of coffee produced in Brazil that America relies on and hence the definite article 'the' is used. The other options do not fit the context of the sentences
9.
Choose the sentence with the correct usage of the article.
An cricket match can be called off when rain renders the ground unplayable.
A cricket match can be called off when rain renders the ground unplayable.
The cricket match can be called off when rain renders the ground unplayable.
Cricket match can be called off when rain renders the ground unplayable.
In the context of the sentence we are talking of any cricket match and hence the indefinite article 'a' is used. Option 3 would be correct if we were referring to a particular cricket match. Option 4 would be correct if we had used 'cricket matches'
10.
Choose the sentence with the correct usage of the article.
Which is the largest continent in the world?
A fruit seller does not sell much during rainy season.
Kanchenjunga is an important mountain peak of the Himalayas.
All of the above are correct.
All the articles used in the sentences are appropriate. There can be only one continent which is the largest in the world and so we use the definite article 'the' in option 1. Option 2 is talking about fruit sellers in general and hence the indefinite article 'a' is used. Kanchenjunga is one among many peaks in the Himalayas and hence the use of indefinite article 'an' in option 3. 'An' is used because peak is qualified by 'important' and it begins with its first letter being a vowel
Author:  V T Narendra

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