A Summary of the Rules Governing Article Usage in English

☑️ A Summary of the Rules Governing Article Usage in English

☑️ Rule 1. 
The countable/uncountable distinction is of crucial importance.
If the noun is countable, singular and 
first-mentioned, use an indefinite article: 
He has a car.

There is, however, an exception to the rule.
Where is the post office?

In the examples above, the nouns (rule, post office) are countable, singular and first-mentioned, but the definite article has been used before them because it is a concise way of saying ‘You know which
one I mean’.

☑️ Rule 2.
If a position can be occupied by one person at a time, use the definite article even when the position is mentioned for the first

The President is going abroad.

The Prime Minister presides over cabiner meetings.

The Headmaster is in.

☑️ Rule 3. 
If a singular countable noun is mentioned for the second time, use the definite articale:

Hakim has a house. The house was built last year.
Hena has written a book. The book is selling very well.

☑️ Rule 4. 
In making generalizations, you have a choice:
The tiger is a ferocious animal.
A tiger is a ferocious animal.
Tigers are ferocious animals.

These statements are true of all tigers and so they are called generic statements or generalizations.

Note that the use of the definite article in this case makes the Statement formal. 
In every day situations it is better to use the plural form.

☑️ Rule 5. 
Do not use any article before uncountable nouns. If you wish to quantify an uncountable thing, a measure word expression must be used:

We brush our teeth with toothpaste.
I am going to buy a tube of toothpaste.

☑️ Rule 6. 
There are certain ranking adjectives which take the definite article. 

These are:

a) superlatives: the best, the most beautiful, the largest

b) sequence adjectives: the first, the next, the last

c) unique adjectives: The same, the only, the chief, the main

☑️ Rule 7. 
We use the definite article when we refer to certain shared knowledge which can be divided into three classes:

a) The world:  the sun, the moon, the stars, the universe.

b) Cultural: the telephone, the radio, the bus

c) Local: the post office, the station

☑️ Rule 8. 
Use the definite article if the noun is postmodified.

The water in the glass is boiled. 

The man who lives next door is a doctor.

The book on the table has an attractive cover.

The rules mentioned above are not exhaustive, but they are the most
important ones. 
The learner should read English closely and discover the other rules for himself or herself.

✍️ Exercises

Use determiners in the blank spaces. 
Do not use the same determiner twice:

a) — fever is gone. 
b) —- sheep are ruminating.
c) — information was leaked. 
d) — enemy surrendered.
e) — head aches. 
f) — prisoners ran away.

Fill in the blank spaces with nouns:

a) Each — sobbed. 
b) Both — disappeared.
c) Little — remained. 
d) Several — died.
e) My — is old.
f) Few — were present.
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