The Articles “The,” “A,” and “AN”

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Sometimes the smallest words make a BIG DIFFERENCE. In the case of the Articles¬†“The,” “A,” and “AN” your writing and speaking can become clear or confusing depending only on how you use these small words.

There are two level these 3 small words operate:

–At the phrase or sentence level and

–At the paragraph or story level.

Phrase/sentence level example:

I bought a shirt yesterday.

“a shirt” is INDEFINITE; that is, I’m not defining or specifying what kind of shirt it is. Now I may continue to describe this shirt and event in the next sentences:

The shirt was on sale but it was blue and it fit me well. 

In this sentence I use “The shirt” because it’s the SAME shirt I mentioned earlier; therefore it’s a SPECIFIC shirt which I’m now describing. This is why I use THE DEFINITE ARTICLE: “The”.

The second level for describing English Articles is at the paragraph level.

In the previous sentence I introduce to you an item which you previously didn’t know and was therefore NEW to you. This new topic begins my story and first paragraph. However to included another sentence using the same topic “the” is necessary — referring to the KNOWN and ALREADY IDENTIFIED item, “the shirt.”

Articles report the item (noun) as identified or not. To refer to the same, known item, we can then continue with a PRONOUN REFERRENT like “it.”

It’s blue colour caught my eye because it was unusual and thus attracted me.

Thus articles and pronouns work together to connect the reader to the topic.

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