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Countable and uncountable nouns. The articles a/an and the belong to a group of words called determiners. The problem of using and teaching articles is of great importance for many reasons. Different ways of teaching articles. Testing using articles.

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Peculiarities of Teaching English
Table of Contents
Introduction...3
Chapter I. Articles.5
1.1 Countable and uncountable nouns.6
1.2 The definite article: the......7
1.3 The indefinite article: a/an.9
1.4 The zero article....10
Chapter II. Different ways of teaching articles...12
2.1 Ways of presenting articles...12
2.2 Memory techniques...18
2.3 Further activities for practicing articles....19
2.4 Testing using articles....21
Conclusions.....25
Summary.....27
List of References...28
Introduction
This paper deals with two types of articles definite (the) and indefinite (a/an), the use of which depends mainly on whether you are referring to any member of a group, or to a specific member of a group. It focuses on different rules of using definite, indefinite and zero articles and peculiarities of teaching articles.
In English, there are two main ways in which you can use a noun group. You can use it to refer to someone or something, knowing that the person you are speaking to understands which person or thing you are talking about. This can be called the specific way of referring to someone or something.
Alternatively, you can use a noun group to refer to someone or something of a particular type, without saying which person or thing you mean. This can be called the general way of referring to someone or something.
In order to distinguish between these two ways of using a noun group, you use a special class of words called determiners. You put them at the beginning of a noun group.
The articles a/an and the belong to a group of words called determiners. The correct use of the articles is one of the most difficult points in English grammar.
The problem of using and teaching articles is of great importance for many reasons. First, the correct use of articles offers difficulties and remains the area of linguistic theory where we different approaches with some important disputable points open to thought and discussion. Second, the pupils' ability in the correct use of articles depends mainly on their speaking skills and vocabulary, that's why it is necessary for teachers to be better informed of the ways of presentation and practicing using articles.
The objective of the paper is definite and indefinite articles and peculiarities of teaching articles.
The subject of the paper is different ways of using articles; the complex of exercises and activities applies to teaching articles.
In accordance with the objectives the following tasks are set:
1) to define and analyze the main ways of using definite, indefinite and zero articles;
2) to single out the main ways of teaching articles;
3) to analyze the importance of teaching articles.
The piece of research was carried out on the material of different authors, dictionaries and Internet.
There is much very useful information about articles in several grammar books, such as Longman English Grammar by L.G. Alexander, Using English Grammar: meaning and form by Edward Woods, Nicole McLeod, A Communicative Grammar by Geoffrey Leech and Jan Startvick.
The structure of the work is done in accordance with the general conceptual framework adopted. Part 1 of the paper dwells upon different ways of using articles. Part 2 shows different ways and importance of teaching articles. Conclusions contain the description of the major results of the research.
Chapter 1
Articles
We use a number of words in front of common nouns (or adjective + common noun) which we call determiners because they affect (or determine) the meaning of the noun. Determiners make it clear, for example which particular thing(s) we are referring to or how much of a substance we are talking about. Singular countable nouns must normally have a determiner in front of them. There are two classes of determiners.
Definite and indefinite articles belong to the class, which helps us to classify or identify the object.
The correct use of the articles (a/an and the) is one of the most difficult points in English grammar. In most European languages there are rules about when to use (or not to use) indefinite and definite articles. These rules generally depend on the gender of the noun and on whether a word is singular or plural. In English, gender does not affect our choice, but whether a word is singular or plural may do so. Fortunately, however, most mistakes in the use of the articles do not matter too much. Even if we leave all the articles out of a sentence, it is usually possible to understand it.
A/an is called the indefinite article. The is called the definite article. We often use no article at all in English. This non-use of the article is so important that we give it a name the zero article. Articles are used to show whether we are referring to things that are known both to the speaker/writer and to the listener/reader (definite) or that are not known to them both (indefinite). Articles can also show whether we are talking about things in general or particular things.
The use of articles is complicated, because it depends on three different things.
First of all, it makes a difference what kind of noun we are using. Articles are not used in the same way with singular countable nouns (like cat, bridge), with plural countable nouns (like cats, bridges), and with uncountable nouns (like water, rice).
Secondly, we use articles in one way if we are talking about things in general (for example Englishmen, or the guitar, or life in general, or whisky), and we use them in a different way when we are talking about particular examples of these things (for example, an Englishman, or a guitar that we want to buy, or the life of Beethoven).
Thirdly, when we are talking about particular examples, it depends whether these are definite or indefinite. If they are definite we normally use the. If we are talking about indefinite things we use articles differently (a or no article).
1.1 Countable and uncountable nouns
Before we look at articles in more detail, the first idea that needs to be understood is the concept of countable and uncountable nouns.
The distinction between countable and uncountable nouns must be clearly understood because it affects our choice of article.
Countable nouns are words like cat, bridge, house, idea. We can count them (one cat, two houses, three ideas), so they can have plurals. The indefinite article a/an really means one, so we can use it with singular countable nouns (a house, an idea), but not with plurals.
We live in a small house.
I've got an idea.
I'm afraid of spiders. (Not: a spiders.)
She was wearing blue trousers. (Not: a blue trousers.)
Uncountable nouns are words like water, rice, energy, luck. These are things that we can divide (a drop of water, a bowl of rice, a piece of luck), but not count. You cannot say one water, two waters, etc. These words do not have plurals. The indefinite article a/an cannot be used with uncountable words.
It's nice weather. (Not: a nice weather).
Water is made of hydrogen and oxygen.(Not: A water ).
A lot of words can be bath countable and uncountable, with different meanings or uses (e.g. iron, an iron; coffee, a coffee). Some plural words have no singular (e.g. trousers, scissors).
A very important point: singular countable nouns must always have an article (or another determiner like my, this). We can say a cat, the cat, this cat, my cat, but not cat. Do not leave out the article before the names of professions. [5:237; 8:55]
1.2 The definite article: the
The is the commonest specific determiner; it is sometimes called the definite article. The usually means something like you know which one(s) I mean. We use the before a noun when our listener/reader knows (or can work out) which particular person(s), thing(s) etc. we are talking about.
Compare:
Did you lock the car? (The listener knows very well which car is meant).
We hired a car to go to Scotland. (The listener does not know which one).
The listener/reader may know which one(s) we mean because:
a) we have mentioned it/them before
She's got two children: a boy and a girl. The boy's fourteen and the girl's eight.
So what did you do then? Gave the money straight back to the policeman.
The speaker uses the because the listener has already heard about the money and the policeman.
b) we say which one(s) we mean
Could you close the door? (Only one door is open).
Ann's in the kitchen.
Did you enjoy the party?
What's the time? [12:55]
Basic uses of the
When using the, we must always bear in mind two basic facts:
1. The normally has a definite reference(a person or the thing referred to is assumed to be known to the speaker or reader).
2. The can combine with singular countable, plural countable and uncountable nouns (which are always singular).
These two facts underlie all uses of the. Some of the most important of these uses are discussed in the sections that follow.
The use of the in time sequences
e.g. the beginning, the middle, the end, the first, the last, the next, the present, the past, the future.
The use of the with parts of the day
e.g. in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, etc.
The use of the with the seasons
(the)spring/summer/autumn/winter.
The use of the in fixed time expressions
All the while, at the moment, for the time being, in the end, etc.
We often use the with unique items
- Historical events: the French Revolution, the Victorian age.
- Ships: the Canberra, the Titanic.
- Political parties: the Conservative Party, the Labour Party.
- Public bodies: the Army, the Police.
- Beliefs: the angels, the saints, the gods.
We usually use the with superlatives because there is normally only one best, biggest etc individual or group. For the same reason, we usually use the with first, next, last, same and only.
We normally use the definite article in expressions like play the guitar, learn the piano. The is often omitted in referenced to jazz and rock:
This is a 1979 recording with Ellison on bass guitar.
Fixed phrases with the the (the sooner the better) and fixed expressions (do the shopping, make the bed)
Measurement. Note the use of the in measuring expressions beginning with by.
Do you sell eggs by the kilo or by the dozen?
She drinks cough medicine by the liter. [4:7; 10:53]
1.3 The indefinite article: a/an
In contrast to the, an indefinite article is use when a reference cannot be regarded as uniquely identifiable from the shared knowledge of speaker. The indefinite article is commonly associated with first mention of an item which anaphoric the would be used in subsequent mention:
Her house was burgled and she lost a camera, a radio, and a purse - though fortunately the purse contained very little money and the camera was insured.
There is no difference in meaning between a and an. When using a/an we must always bear in mind the following facts:
1. A/an has an indefinite meaning, (the person, animal or thing referred to may be not known to the listener or reader, so a/an has the sense of any or I cannot tell you which, or it doesn't matter which).
My brother's going out with a French girl.
(The listener does not know which particular French girl it is.)
She lives in a nice big house.
Could you lend me a pen?
2. We can also use a/an to talk about any one member of a class.
She is a doctor.
3. We can use a/an after a copular verb or as to classify people and things to say what class, group or type they belong to.
She's an architect.
I'm looking forward to being a grandmother.
What's that noise? I think it's a helicopter.
He decided to become an engineer.
He remained a bachelor all his life.
Don't use your plate as an ashtray.
4. A/an can combine only with a singular countable noun. [2:42; 6:157]
1.4 The zero article
The use of nouns on their own without an article is so fundamental in English that we should not regard this merely as the omission of the article. We should think of the non-use of the article as something positive and give it a name the zero articles which is usually given the symbol O.
Basic uses of the zero article
We use the zero article before three types of nouns:
1. Plural countable nouns.
Museums are closed on Monday.
Italians make delicious ice-cream.
Trees don't grow in the Antarctic.
2. Uncountable nouns (always singular).
Water must be pure if it is to be drunk.
Red is my favourite colour.
Smoking is bad for the health.
3. Proper nouns.
Also we should bear in mind the following rules of using the zero article:
Zero article for days, months, seasons and holidays
Mondays are always difficult.
June is my favourite month.
Spring is a lovely season.
Zero article for academic subjects and related topics
Art, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, History.
English is a difficult language to learn well.
Zero article for times of the day and night. Combinations are common with at, by, after, before:
At dawn/daybreak, at sunset/sunrise, by day/night.
We got up at dawn to climb to the summit.
Zero article for meals
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper
Zero article in fixed phrases
Arm in arm, come to light, face to face, from top to bottom, hand in hand, keep in mind, make friends, make fun of. [12:60; 13:47]
Chapter 2
Different Ways of Teaching Articles
Articles are a problem for students of English because of their meaning and grammar. The correct use of the article is one of the most difficult points in English grammar. Students must understand the main difference between definite and indefinite article. The usually means something like ``you know which one(s) I mean. We use the before a noun when our listener /reader knows (or can work out) which particular person(s), thing(s) we are talking about. In contrast to the, an indefinite article is used when a reference cannot be regarded as uniquely identifiable from the shared knowledge of speaker. The indefinite article is commonly associated with ``first mention'' of an item with which anaphoric the would be used in subsequent mention. Teaching articles should be based on such methodological principles as a conscious approach to forming and developing the skill of using articles. Pupils learn to use articles in the word-combinations, sentences in the target languages more successfully if they understand what they write, read or hear. Most grammar cannot be learnt in passing but has to be studied and thoroughly practiced before students can produce it confidently and accurately in new contexts. [7:54]
2.1 Ways of presenting articles
In the process of teaching English, teachers should pay special attention to countable and uncountable nouns. The distinction between countable and uncountable nouns must be clearly understood because it affects our choice of articles.
Countable nouns are words like cat, bridge, house, idea. We can count them (one cat, two houses, three ideas), so they can have plurals. The indefinite article a/an really means one, so we can use it with singular countable nouns (a house, an idea), but not with plurals.
We live in a small house.
I've got an idea.
I'm afraid of spiders.
She was wearing blue trousers.
Uncountable nouns are words like water, rice, energy, luck. These are things that we can divide (a drop of water, a bowl of rice, a piece of luck), but not count. You cannot say one water, two waters, etc. These words do not have plurals. The indefinite article a/an cannot be used with uncountable words.
It's nice weather. (Not: a nice weather.)
Water is made of hydrogen and oxygen. (Not: A water)
A lot of words can be both countable and uncountable, with different meanings or uses (e.g. iron, an iron; coffee, a coffee). Some plural words have no singular (e.g. trousers, scissors).
Putting it in another way, we can use:
a/an or the +singular countable: a hat - the hat,
the or zero + plural countable: the hats - hats,
the or zero + uncountable: the water - water.
A very important point: singular countable nouns must always have an article (or another determiner like my, this). We can say a cat, the cat, this cat, my cat, but not cat. Do not leave out the article before the names of professions.
Alice is studying to be a doctor. (Not: to be doctor).
In order to show the difference in using definite and indefinite articles with countable and uncountable nouns I use pictures and tables (see Appendix 1). There is a great number of exercises which can help students to understand the difference between countable and uncountable nouns. For example:
1. Which of the underlined parts of these sentences is right?
Margaret has got very long hair / hairs.
We had a very good weather / very good weather when we were on holidays.
Sorry I'm late. I had trouble / troubles with the car this morning.
I want something to read. I'm going to buy a / some paper.
I want to write some letters. I need a / some writing paper.
Bad news don't / doesn't make people happy.
I had to buy a / some bread because I wanted to make some sandwiches.
2. Complete the sentences with the correct form, singular or plural, of the given nouns. When necessary, choose word in parentheses in some of the sentences.
chair I bought some..
furniture I bought some..
fruit There (is, are) a lot of .on the table.
vegetable There (is, are) a lot of .on the table.
dress Mary has a lot of in her closet.
grammar I know a lot of .
word I'm learning a lot of new.
2. Add final -s/ -es if possible.
1. I'm learning a lot of grammar
2. We're studying count and noncount noun
3. Olga knows several language
4. Olga has learned a lot of English
5. Sara doesn't like to wear makeup
6. Colorado has high mountain
7. The streets are full of automobile
8. I have some important fact for you.
9. A circle has 360 degree
Such types of exercises help students to understand the difference between countable and uncountable nouns.
The importance of teaching articles is obvious. It is necessary for teachers to be better informed how present and practice grammar and articles.
There exist different ways of presenting articles. At the beginning pupils must realize when should we use an indefinite article and when should we use a definite article? That's why they have to remember the first rule:
Indefinite article is used for previously unknown nouns that are being introduced into a dialogue or story and definite article is used for nouns that have already been introduced (or are already known).
For example:
I saw a cat. The cat was sitting on a fence. The fence was painted brown. The cat jumped off the fence when it saw a mouse. The mouse ran into a hole when it saw the cat so the cat didn't catch the mouse.
In this example, the nouns `cat', `fence', and `mouse' take an indefinite article, but only when they are introduced for the first time. After they are introduced, we use the definite article in every instance. This pattern, or rule, covers a lot of basic instances of concrete nouns, especially in story telling. This rule can extend over long periods of time and interrupted dialogue so that I can ask you to buy a pen and then several hours later I can ask you if you bought the pen.
Of course, this rule cannot be taught at the single sentence level since it requires a sentence to introduce the noun and a sentence to talk about the noun that has previously been introduced.
One exercise that I find useful is to have students fill in the articles for simple stories where several characters and objects are introduced into the story in succession. Every time a new character (knight, cat, ogre, mouse) or a new objec ..................





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