Articles: Intermediate – Advanced

We have already covered the basic information on English articles: a/an and the. The use of the zero article has also been written about. Now it’s time to move forward and see more advanced uses of the articles.

Remember!

The article is usually the first word in a noun phrase, but note

  • all/both/half + the: We must take all the preventive measures we can. We find merits in both the Norwegian and Swedish proposals. Almost 3 billion people, half the world’s population, live in cities now.
  • quite/rather/such/what/half + a/an: That is quite a persuasive argument. I am going to stay there for rather a long period. Who can possibly forget such a dress? What a waste! See you in half an hour.

DEFINITE ARTICLE

The use Examples
classes (this way is more formal than using a plural) The tiger is threatened with extinction.
titles of most newspapers (“the” is part of the title, and so is capitalized) I read The Independent almost every day.

The Guardian is a daily newspaper.

BUT

USA Today is an internationally distributed American daily, middle-market newspaper.

musical instruments Tom plays the piano. The guitar is my favorite instrument.

BUT

There is a small brown flute in the window of the shop (a single object).

emphatic use Oh, this is the place (“this” is heavily stressed and emphasizes the noun “place”).
some geographical names (for more information, read the post) The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth (unique feature).

Her home is in the east (compass point/area).

The Lebanon and the Gambia are small countries (exceptions).

place names The University of Leeds (BUT Leeds University)

The Tower of London (BUT London Bridge)

The Isle of Man (BUT Canvey Island)

most vs. the most Most hotels in Japan are very expensive (making a generalization).

This is the most expensive hotel in the city (talking about a specific hotel).

importance of context On the Saturday there was a terrible storm (here “the Saturday” refers to a day in an area of time already mentioned – on the Saturday of that week).

INDEFINITE ARTICLE

The use Examples
jobs Tony is a builder.

BUT

Tony was the builder of that house.

measuring We meet three times a week.

Crashing at 300 km per/an hour, he was miraculously unhurt (formally, per can replace a/an).

How much is a kilo of gold worth today?

He makes 15,000 pounds a year.

unknown people A Mr Jones called while you were out (the use of a/an emphasizes that a person is unknown).

ZERO ARTICLE

The use Examples
names John Smith is my favorite artist (a person).

BUT

A John Smith hangs in the bedroom (a painting).

some unique organizations The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament or British Parliament but is more generally known domestically simply as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and overseas territories.
streets I’d like to rent a house in Godwin Street.

BUT

The High Street and the Strand (London) are exceptions.

NOTE

Street names without preceding adjectives  usually use the: I like the atmosphere of the Drive.

Would you like to practice? In each space put a/an or the, or leave the space blank:

It has been announced that for (1) ___ third consecutive month there has been (2) ___ rise in (3) ___ number of (4) ___ people unemployed, rather than (5) ___ fall that had been predicted. (6) ___ rise was blamed on (7) ___ continuing uncertainty over (8) ___ government economic policy, and couldn’t come at (9) ___ worse time for (10) ___ Prime Minister, who is facing (11) ___ growing criticism over (12) ___ way (13) ___ present crisis is being handled. (14) ___ MPs (MP – Member of Parliament) are increasingly voicing (15) ___ fears that despite (16) ___ recent devaluation of (17) ___ pound and cuts in (18) ___ interest rates, (19) ___ government still expects (20) ___ recovery of the economy to take three or even four years. To make (21) ___ matters worse, (22) ___ number of small businesses going into (23) ___ liquidation is still at (24) ___ record level, and (25) ___ housing market is showing no signs of recovery. Some backbenchers* expect (26) ___ general election before (27) ___ end of (28) ___ winter unless there is (29) ___ rapid change of (30) ___ fortune.

  • Backbencher – (in the UK) a Member of Parliament who does not hold office in the government or opposition and who sits behind the front benches in the House of Commons

Answer key:

  1. the; 2. a; 3. the; 4. -; 5. the; 6. the; 7. the; 8. -; 9. -; 10. the; 11. -; 12. the; 13. the; 14. -; 15. -; 16. the; 17. the; 18. -; 19. the; 20. the; 21. -; 22. the; 23. -; 24. a/-; 25. the; 26. a; 27. the; 28. the; 29. a; 30. –