“THE” AND “A” IN ENGLISH

Why do we need these words, anyway?

Many excellent foreign speakers of English still forget to use the words ‘a’ and ‘the’.  Why?  Because they aren’t in your language.  But, they are in English, like it or not, and you do sound much more articulate and with fewer grammar errors by using them.

Here’s an easy way to remember when to use ‘a’ and when to use “the”.

The refers to specific information.  ‘A’ refers to general information.  If you’re talking about a particular apple, you might say “Please give me ‘the’ apple,” meaning THAT particular apple on the table. Or, “Please give me ‘an’ apple,” means give me ANY apple…you’re not talking about anything specific — it might be somewhere in the fridge.  But that’s it.

Another way to remember—- is ‘the’ is for old information, and ‘a’ is for new information.  For example, “I went to ‘the’ store” is in past tense and therefore it is old information. Also, if you were to say, “I’m going to the store,”  you are referring to a specific store, —– that’s old information.  “I’m going to ‘a’ store,” or “I went to ‘a’ store” means it’s new information.  

Here’s another tip– get used to pronouncing the “th” sound correctly.  The word ‘the’ comes up very often in English, and if you pronounce it correctly,  you will sound  clear and articulate.

 

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