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Website: http://www.docs.vn Email : lienhe@docs.vn Tel (: 0918.775.368 The uses of article “a/an” Abstract In studying a foreign language, learners could not pay attention to only its pronunciation, vocabulary but also its grammar. The learners, in fact, have to meet grammatical problem very much such as: tense, verb, adj…Particularly articles. The correct use of articles a/an is complex and difficult problem in English grammar. It requires learners to have a very good knowledge of articles and how to use them. Therefore, in my study, I describe research to ward article a/an in English. We present definition and types of articles, some basic use of a/an, and classification in terms of meaning. Outline I. Introduction II. Findings 1. Definition and types of articles. 2. Basic use of a/an. 3. Classification in terms of meaning. III. Recommendations IV. Conclusion References 1 Website: http://www.docs.vn Email : lienhe@docs.vn Tel (: 0918.775.368 I. Introduction Nowadays, English has become more and more popular in Viet Nam in general and in many universities in particular. For many students learning English is vital need. To learn English well, grammar plays a very important role of which articles are a rather small but crucial grammatical unit in defining nouns and showing how the noun is being used. Although article a/an is a small elements, they have caused a lot of trouble and confusion for learners when using them. As a Vietnamese learner of English for a long time, I sometimes have difficulties in using article a/an. That is reason I choose this topic for may study. The study concentrates on finding of out English learners difficulties in learning articles and basing on this to give learners some necessary ones which I have learned from teacher, friend ,books…to help them overcome the difficulties and use of article a/an more effectively. And in my study, I focus on definition basic use of article a/an and classification in terms of meaning. 2 Website: http://www.docs.vn Email : lienhe@docs.vn Tel (: 0918.775.368 II. Finding 1. Definition and types of articles Many grammarians such as A.J. Thomson, Alexander, Cobuild…have many different definition. According to Cobuild (1990) articles are a small member of determiners that are used with noun or noun phrases and have function of identifying on classifying the nouns or noun phrases (p.43) Another definition of English articles is that articles are, in fact, limiting adjectives, but they are generally treated as a separate part of speech An indefinite article is used before singular nouns that refer to any member of group (Raimes,1988, P. 45) There are three main articles: The indefinite articles a/an The definite articles the The zero article (o) 2. Basic use of a/an a/.∂./in front of consonant sound: p, t, k, m, n, …and with alphabet B, C, D, G, K, Q, T,U, V, W, Y,Z, (H) Eg: a hat, a pen, a K An/∂n/ in front of vowel sound o. e, i, a, u and with alphabet A, E, F, H, I, L, M, N, O, R, S, X… Eg: an umbrella, an orange, an F A/an has an indefinite meaning (person, animals or thing referred to may be not know to the listener or readers, so A/an has the sense of any or I can’t tell you which, or it doesn’t matter which) A/an can combine only with singular noun 3 Website: http://www.docs.vn Email : lienhe@docs.vn Tel (: 0918.775.368 3. Classification in terms of meaning 3.1 A/an +a noun: referring to something /person in general Eg: A cat is a domestic animal An architect is a person who designs buildings 3.2 By means of label: a/an +noun after the verb be. In order to give more information about someone, something or talk about the profession (Alexander, 1988, P 36) Eg: His father is an engineer She is a doctor 3.3 A/an +adjective = noun to describe the people ( Que, Phan Van and Minh, Hoang Tuyet,2006, P.18) Eg: She is American = She is an American He is conservative = He is a conservative 3.4 Indicating Occupation: He wants to be a teacher Religion and nationalities: He is an English man Politics: My grandmother is a Republican Origins: I am a Vietnamese 3.5 Representative/ example/ typical or group of class. “To refer to a thing or a person of individual type to makes a general statement about all people or things of that type” ( J, Maurer, 1997, P.25) Eg: A child needs love ( all Children need love) 4 Website: http://www.docs.vn Email : lienhe@docs.vn Tel (: 0918.775.368 3.6 Referring to a “certain person” A/an +tiles (Ms, Mr, Mrs):a certain person who you don’t known ( Que, Phan Van and Tuyet, Hoang Minh, 2006, P.19) Eg: A Mr Hung phone you A Mss Lan wants to see you in the hall 3.7 Quantity: a/an = only one Not specifying any particular person or thing Eg: I’d like a cake When expressing this in the plural person, we use some or any Eg: I’d like some cakes/ I don’t like any cakes Referring to “only one” Eg: I have a new car 3.8 A/an when it is mentioned for the first time and represents no particular person or thing (Chalker, S, 1984, P.28) Eg: He has just bough a book There were a man and a woman in the garden 3.9 A/an with reference to measurement: referring to one unit of measure in terms of another. To emphasize each, We used per instead of a/an ( Que, Phan Van and Minh, Hoang Tuyet,2006, P18) Price in relation to weight : 5p a/per kilo 5 Website: http://www.docs.vn Email : lienhe@docs.vn Tel (: 0918.775.368 Distance in relation to speed: 60km an/per hour Distance/ fuel consumption: 30miles a/per gallon Frequency/time: Four times a day 3.10 A/an after What and such (Alexander, L.G, 1988, P 37) A/an used with countable nouns after What in exclamations Eg: What a shame! What a lot...! used for exclamation Eg: What a lot of lucky A/an after such when we wish to emphasize degree Eg: She is such an intelligent! 3.11 A/an with pairs of nouns Eg: a cup and saucer 3.12 A/an with references to illnesses/ condition ( Thu, N.T, 2003, P.20) The indefinite article is compulsory: to have a cold. A headache The indefinite article is optional: to catch a cold, to have a stomach With illnesses which are plural in form (measles, mumps..) no articles is used: My sister are bed with mumps With illnesses which are defined as uncountable (flu, hepatitis…) no articles used: I was bed in flu for ten days. 6 Website: http://www.docs.vn Email : lienhe@docs.vn Tel (: 0918.775.368 IV. Recommendations In order to used articles a/an in English effectively, the first things is that learners have to understand concept of countability of nouns which articles modify. According to Jack, C.R (1985) The learners understand the used of indefinite avoid mistakes when using an indefinite articles with uncountable nouns and avoid using indefinite articles before nouns when they can count ( P. 47) We can not use the indefinite articles before a plural. Eg: He found a holy place in the forest near his school (incorrect) → He found holy places in the forest near his school (correct) A countable noun always takes an article before it Eg: She is student (incorrect) → She is a student (correct) We can not use the indefinite article before an un countable noun like money. Eg: She has a money in her bag (incorrect) →She has money in her bag (correct) The confusion in the use of articles: An is used instead of A: Before a singular countable noun with consonant or a vowel with a consonant sound 7 Website: http://www.docs.vn Email : lienhe@docs.vn Tel (: 0918.775.368 Eg: She is studying at an University in Hanoi (incorrect) →She is studying at a University in Hanoi (correct) A is used instead of an: Before a singular countable noun with a vowel or consonant with a vowel sound Eg: He is a honest person (incorrect) →He is an honest person (correct) A/an is used instead of one in emphatic case Eg: It was a book we borrowed, not two (incorrect) →It was one book we borrowed, not two (correct) According to Jack (1985) A/an can be interchangeably each other when we refer to whole numbers, fractions, money, weight, measure… (P.32) Eg: a (one) hundred, thousand… a ( one) quarter, third… a (one) pound, dollar … a ( one) kilo, meter… 8 Website: http://www.docs.vn Email : lienhe@docs.vn Tel (: 0918.775.368 IV. Conclusion The used articles, especially article a/an are rather a challenge for learners and for us also. Because of the complexities in using, article a/an may lead the misunderstanding and difficulties to learners. Therefore, the study is carried out to find out these problems and help learners understand and use them more flexible. By pointing out the definition and types of articles, basic use of article a/an and classification in terms meaning in English, I hope that this studying will help the learners have overview of article a/an . 9 Website: http://www.docs.vn Email : lienhe@docs.vn Tel (: 0918.775.368 References 1. Alexander, L.G.(1988). Longman English Grammar. NewYork: Longman Group Limited. 2. Chalker, S. (1984). Current English Grammar. Macmillan published Ltd. 3. Cobuild, C. (1990). English Grammar. LonDon: Collins publisher. 4. Maurer, J. (1997). Focus on Grammar –An Advanced. NXB Thanh pho Ho Chi Minh. 5. Que, Phan Van & Minh, Hoang Tuyet. (2006). Fundamentals of Practical English Grammer. Hanoi Open University. 6. Thu, N. T. (2003). Ngu Phap Tieng Anh. NXB Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh. From website: http://www.unc.du/depts/wcweb/handout/articles.html http://www.rpi.edu/web/writingcenter/esl.html 10
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