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Articles

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Introduction

Articles are an area of language which often causes difficulties for students, especially those students who speak a language in which there are no articles. With this in mind, the following learning object allows you, the student, to follow a set of exercises, including quizzes, mazes and gap fills, designed to try and help you brush up on, and gain more confidence in using articles in written and spoken English.

 

Objectives

To revise basic grammar rules about grammar
To provide exercises which encourage students to practice chosing the correct article
To provide exercises which build students' confidence in using the correct article



Nouns

 

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Instruction

Read the following piece of text. Using the tick cross buttons below, identify which of the words are nouns (some feature as part of a longer noun phrase).




When approaching the notion of friendship, our first problem is, as Graham Allan (1996: 85) has commented, that there is a lack of firmly agreed and socially acknowledged criteria for what makes a person a friend. In one setting we may describe someone as a friend, in another the label may seem less appropriate. We may have a very thin understanding of what friendship entails. For example, Bellah et. al. (1996: 115), drawing upon Aristotle, suggest that the traditional idea of friendship has three components: 'Friends must enjoy each other's company, they must be useful to one another, and they must share a common commitment to the good'. In contemporary western societies, it is suggested, we tend to define friendship in terms of the first component, and find the notion of utility difficult to place within friendship.


Doyle, M. E. and Smith, M. K. (2002) 'Friendship: theory and experience', the encyclopaedia of informal education. Accessed on 15th April 2010. [http://www.infed.org/biblio/friendship.htm]



tick icon cross icon
approaching
the notion of friendship
problem
commented
a lack of firmly agreed and socially acknowledged criteria
a person
a friend
setting
describe
someone
the label
a very thhin understanding
suggest
the traditional idea of friendship
components
must
each other
company
Friends
useful
share
a common commitment to the good
contemporary
societies
the first component
utility

Nouns with Articles

 

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Instruction

Go back to the nouns you identified in Task 1. Which of them are preceded by articles? Write your answer in the text entry box below and then check your answers with the feedback box.

Why do some nouns have articles and others don't?



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Instruction

In task 2 you can see that some of the nouns are not preceded by articles. For example, 'friends' and 'criteria'. Why is this? Write your answer in the text entry box and then check your answer with the feedback.

Using this Online Dictionary try to discover if the nouns from Activity 1 are countable or uncountable. Put a mark in the tick box if it is countable and a mark in the cross box if it is uncountable.

tick icon cross icon
notion
friendship
problem
lack
criteria
person
friend
setting
the label
understanding
idea
component
company
commitment
good
society
utility

In the following task, you will need to complete the rules by fillilng in the gap.

Singular, countable nouns are preceded by an article. Which article you use depends on whether the noun is being referred to for the first or second time. In the first reference to the noun use . In the second and subsequent references, use .

Plural countable nouns can use if the reference to the noun is very specific, e.g. the utilities to be used were outlined in the memo.

Uncountable nouns are not preceded by an article, unless the reference is a specific reference, in which case, the article can bs used e.g. the good.

Some nouns can be both countable and uncountable, dependent upon the context in which they are being used. This can lead to confusion, so, when in doubt, check a Dictionary. However, the most important thing to remember should you be presented with a choice, is to look at the context of the noun and to decide upon the countability in the given context.


If you would like more practice on this area or you would like to learn about the rules associated with articles in more detail, try to complete the following maze articles maze.


Test your knowledge

Now that you are familiar with the basic rules, it is time to test them. Answer the questions in the following quiz to try and see how much you learnt in the first exercise.

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Instruction

Click on the link and then complete the quiz.

Articles quiz

As mentioned at the start of the learning object, articles cause difficulties for many students. If you find the concept of articles difficult, you are not alone. Articles are the type of grammar structure which must be practiced and practiced in order to overcome difficulties. They are something you will 'grow' to understand and gain a feel for.

Fill in the gaps

Now it's your turn to put what you have learnt into practice.

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Instruction

Click on the link and then fill in the gaps with an appropriate article.

Article gapfill

Please note: In the gapfill, the zero article (which means no article) is represented by a 0.

Remember to refer back to the rules you learnt in the first activity or refer to the internet sites listed in activity 1 for help.

Student essay

 

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Instruction

Read the following student essay and see if you can identify a few instances in which the article usage is incorrect.

For example: 'Since the internet became the integral part of people’s life' contains a mistake. It should read 'Since the internet became an integral part of people’s life' .

Student essay



Mark your corrections on the word document and save it.

Compare your student essay with the corrected version

Now is your chance to check the corrections you made to the student essay.

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Instruction

Open up the essay with corrections and compare your version with it. Try to find instances in which your corrections are the same or different.

Reviewing the rules

In the following exercise you will be asked to complete a maze which has been designed to make you think about the use of articles.

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Instruction

Open the maze by following the link below.

articles maze

References:

Affonso, B. (1999). Is the Internet Affecting the Social Skills of Our Children? [Online www.sierrasource.com] . Accessed on 14/03/06

Doyle, M. E. and Smith, M. K. (2002) 'Friendship: theory and experience', the encyclopaedia of informal education [Online http://www.infed.org/biblio/friendship.htm]. Accessed on 15th April 2010

Shaw, L.H. & Gant, L.M. (2002) ‘Users Divided? Exploring the Gender Gap in Internet Use’ . Cyber. Psychology & Behaviour, 5/6.

© Jessica Cooper / Queen Mary University of London /photograph courtesy of nightRPstar used under creative commons attribution license