Articles in English

Thursday, July 12, 2012
The indefinite article is used in the following functions: classifying, generic and numerical.
1) Classifying . In this function the article serves to refer an object to the class or group of
objects of the same kind. The article has the meaning of the indefinite pronoun
some: Somewhere a telephone began to ring.
The noun preceded by the indefinite article in its classifying function may be accompanied by premodifying and postmodifying descriptive attributes: I’ve read a very interesting novel.
2) Generic (any, every). In this function the indefinite article implies that what is said about one
representative of the class (a thing, animal or a person) can also be said about other representatives of this class. The indefinite article in its generic function has the meaning of any, every: A library is a collection of books.
In this function the indefinite article is used in proverbs and sentences expressing some general truth: A friend in need is a friend indeed
3) Numeric(al) In this function the indefinite article preserves its original meaning of the cardinal numeral one: I won’t say a word.
The idea of oneness is evident with nouns denoting time, distance, measure: a hundred, a thousand, a minute, a day, an hour, a year; after the negative not — not a word, not a thought.
The Definite Article
The main functions of the definite article are: specifying and generic.
1) Generic In its generic function the definite article refers to the whole class of objects of
the same kind. It is used to indicate that the noun becomes a composite image of the class:
The lion is the king of animals.
The generic reference suggests the highest degree of abstraction in a countable noun, so with the words man and woman in their generic meaning no article is used. As for the noun man, it can also have the idea of “mankind”: Man is not made to defeat.
Note 1. The generic use of the definite article occurs with nouns denoting social classes: the proletariat, the bourgeoisie, the gentry, the intelligentsia.
Note 2. The use of the definite article before substantivized adjectives in their collective or abstract meaning is also generic: the poor, the strong, the obvious, the beautiful.
Note 3. The definite article is used in its generic function with nouns denoting different inventions and discoveries: Popov invented the radio.
2) Specifying In this function the definite article serves to single out an object or a group of objects from all the other objects of the same kind. The specification can be provided by:
a) a premodifying restrictive attribute. It may be expressed by the following words: very, right, wrong, left, only, opposite, last, next, same, following, first, most: Are we on the right road?
But: She is an only child in the family.
b) a postmodifying restrictive attribute. It may be a clause, a prepositional phrase, or a participial phrase: The students of our institute are taking their exams in June.
c) the preceding context. The noun with the definite article may be a mere repetition of the noun
mentioned before, or the reference to the words or statement just mentioned: I saw a girl in the garden.
d) the situation. Though the object is mentioned for the first time, no attribute or context is
necessary for the speaker to point out and for the listener to understand what object is meant:
After visiting a theatre: I liked the acting and the music.
e) the meaning of the noun. The definite article in its specifying function is used with unique objects or notions: the sun, the moon, the earth, the sea, the world, the horizon, the south, the
north: The sky had cleared.
Note: nouns denoting unique objects may be preceded by the indefinite article in its classifying function when some aspect or phase of the object is meant or when the word is used figuratively. Usually there is a descriptive attribute describing a noun: A warm September sun was brightening the tree tops.

Other useful publications about articles could be found here:

What about now?

Monday, March 7, 2011
It is high time I have started a blog about my passion - creating awesome things with the help of my hands and computers. I am very fond of designing things and applying them to interior design. These are my hobbies and day jobs.

© 2010 The Joy Of Photography and DesignBlogger Template.