Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Even nouns used indefinitely are not without problems.
Some words are indefinite in English but definite in other languages. For example, I can say in English ‘I like chocolate’, but in French ‘chocolate’ would take a definite article: ‘J’aime le chocolat’. To make matters harder, ‘a’ is used before a consonant sound (not just a consonant), so that words like ‘uniform’, ‘university’ and ‘year’ take ‘a’, while ‘an’ is used with a vowel sound, before words like ‘egg’, ‘owl’ and ‘hour’. Uncountable (non-count) nouns (like ‘fun’) and plural nouns (like ‘games’) take no article at all when they are used indefinitely.
The main thing when choosing articles is to decide whether a noun is countable or uncountable, and then work out whether it is definite or indefinite. A singular countable noun must take an article. If you’re not sure whether a noun is countable, check in a learner’s dictionary.
If you’d like more help with articles, and some practice exercises, visit this new website: www.adelaide.edu.au/english-for-uni. The website features the new Ms Parrot video, highlighted in the previous post. There is also a link to a video evaluation with the chance to enter a draw to win an iPod Shuffle.
Have fun learning about articles, and Thanks a Million for helping me to create the character of Ms Parrot!