ЗНАЕТЕ ЛИ ВЫ?

Module 1 Unit 1 THE FIRST DAY AT THE UNIVERSITY.



MEETING NEW FRIENDS.

GRAMMAR

ARTICLES

The 3 articles in English are a, an and the. The learner has to decide noun-by-noun which one of the articles to use*. In fact, there are 4 choices to make, because sometimes no article is necessary. Native-speakers, of course, use the articles correctly without thinking in everyday spoken language. English learners, on the other hand, need to have some guidelines for making the right choice - particularly those learners whose own language does not have articles, such as Japanese or Korean. The guidelines that follow here should help ESL students to a basic understanding of English article use.

The most important first step in choosing the correct article is to categorize the noun as count or uncount in its context**:

- A count noun is a noun that can have a number in front of it: 1 teacher, 3 books, 76 trombones, 1,000,000 people.

- An uncount noun is a noun that cannot have a number put in front of it: 1 water, 2 lucks, 10 airs, 21 oils, 39 informations. Once you have correctly categorized the noun (using your dictionary if necessary), the following "rules" apply:

Uncount nouns

  • You cannot say a/an with an uncount noun.
  • You cannot put a number in front of an uncount noun. (You cannot make an uncount noun plural.)
  • You use an uncount noun with no article if you mean that thing in general.
  • You use the with an uncount noun when you are talking about a particular example of that thing.

Count nouns

  • You can put a number in front of a count noun. (You can make a count noun plural.)
  • You can put both a/an and the in front of a count noun.
  • You must put an article in front of a singular count noun.
  • You use a plural count noun with no article if you mean all or any of that thing.
  • You usually use a/an with a count noun the first time you say or write that noun.
  • You use the with count nouns:
    • the second and subsequent times you use the noun in a piece of speech or writing
    • when the listener knows what you are referring to (maybe because there is only one of that thing)
  • You use an (not a) when the next word (adverb, adjective, noun) starts with a vowel sound.

Note:

  • The above rules apply whether there is or there is not an adjective in front of the noun.
  • Some nouns can be either count or uncount, depending on the context and meaning:
    • Do you have paper? I want to draw a picture. (uncount = a sheet of paper)
    • Can you get me a paper when youяПНre at the shop? (count = a newspaper)
  • Uncount nouns are often preceded by phrases such as: a lot of .. (luck), a piece of .. (cake), a bottle of .. (milk), a grain of .. (rice).

* Instead of an article, the noun can also be preceded by a determiner such as this, that, some, many or my, his, our, etc.

Following are some of the most important guidelines listed above, with example sentences:

1. You use an uncount noun with no article if you mean all or any of that thing.
  • I need help!
  • I don't eat cheese.
  • Do you like music?
2. You use the with an uncount noun when you are talking about a particular example of that thing.
  • Thanks for the help you gave me yesterday.
  • I didn't eat the cheese. It was green!
  • Did you like the music they played at the dance?
3. You usually use a/an with a count noun the first time you say or write that noun.
  • Can I borrow a pencil, please?
  • There's a cat in the garden!
  • Do you have an mp3 player?
4. You use the with count nouns the second and subsequent times you use the noun, or when the listener already knows what you are referring to (maybe because there is only one of that thing).
  • Where's the pencil I lent you yesterday?
  • I think the cat belongs to the new neighbours.
  • I dropped the mp3 player and it broke.
  • Please shut the door!
5. You use a plural count noun with no article if you mean all or any of that thing.
  • I don't like dogs.
  • Do they have children?
  • I don't need questions. Give me answers!
6. The above rules apply whether there is or there is not an adjective in front of the noun.
  • I don't eat German cheese.
  • Can I borrow a red pencil, please?
  • There's an extremely large cat in the garden!
  • I don't like small, noisy children.

 

 

Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns represent specific people or things. We use them depending on:

  • number: singular (eg: I) or plural (eg: we)
  • person: 1st person (eg: I), 2nd person (eg: you) or 3rd person (eg: he)
  • gender: male (eg: he), female (eg: she) or neuter (eg: it)
  • case: subject (eg: we) or object (eg: us)

We use personal pronouns in place of the person or people that we are talking about. My name is Josef but when I am talking about myself I almost always use "I" or "me", not "Josef". When I am talking direct to you, I almost always use "you", not your name. When I am talking about another person, say John, I may start with "John" but then use "he" or "him". And so on.

Here are the personal pronouns, followed by some example sentences:

number person gender personal pronouns
subject object
singular 1st male/ female I me
2nd male/ female you you
3rd male he him
female she her
neuter it it
plural 1st male/ female we us
2nd male/ female you you
3rd male/ female/ neuter they them

Examples (in each pair, the first sentence shows a subject pronoun, the second an object pronoun):

  • I like coffee. / John helped me.
  • Do you like coffee? / John loves you.
  • He runs fast. / Did Ram beat him?
  • She is clever. / Does Mary know her?
  • It doesn't work. / Can the man fix it?
  • We went home. / Anthony drove us.
  • Do you need a table for three? / Did John and Mary beat you at doubles?
  • They played doubles. / John and Mary beat them.

When we are talking about a single thing, we almost always use it. However, there are a few exceptions. We may sometimes refer to an animal as he/him or she/her, especially if the animal is domesticated or a pet. Ships (and some other vessels or vehicles) as well as some countries are often treated as female and referred to as she/her. Here are some examples:

  • This is our dog Rusty. He's an Alsatian.
  • The Titanic was a great ship but she sank on her first voyage.
  • My first car was a Mini and I treated her like my wife.
  • Thailand has now opened her border with Cambodia.

For a single person, sometimes we don't know whether to use he or she. There are several solutions to this:

  • If a teacher needs help, he or she should see the principal.
  • If a teacher needs help, he should see the principal.
  • If a teacher needs help, they should see the principal.

We often use it to introduce a remark:

  • It is nice to have a holiday sometimes.
  • It is important to dress well.
  • It's difficult to find a job.
  • Is it normal to see them together?
  • It didn't take long to walk here.

We also often use it to talk about the weather, temperature, time and distance:

  • It's raining.
  • It will probably be hot tomorrow.
  • Is it nine o'clock yet?
  • It's 50 kilometres from here to Cambridge.

Possessive Pronouns

We use possessive pronouns to refer to a specific person/people or thing/things (the "antecedent") belonging to a person/people (and sometimes belonging to an animal/animals or thing/things).

We use possessive pronouns depending on:

  • number: singular (eg: mine) or plural (eg: ours)
  • person: 1st person (eg:mine), 2nd person (eg: yours) or 3rd person (eg: his)
  • gender: male (his), female (hers)

Below are the possessive pronouns, followed by some example sentences. Notice that each possessive pronoun can:

  • be subject or object
  • refer to a singular or plural antecedent
number person gender (of "owner") possessive pronouns
singular 1st male/ female mine
2nd male/ female yours
3rd male his
female hers
plural 1st male/ female ours
2nd male/ female yours
3rd male/ female/ neuter theirs
  • Look at these pictures. Mine is the big one. (subject = My picture)
  • I like your flowers. Do you like mine? (object = my flowers)
  • I looked everywhere for your key. I found John's key but I couldn't find yours. (object = your key)
  • My flowers are dying. Yours are lovely. (subject = Your flowers)
  • All the essays were good but his was the best. (subject = his essay)
  • John found his passport but Mary couldn't find hers. (object = her passport)
  • John found his clothes but Mary couldn't find hers. (object = her clothes)
  • Here is your car. Ours is over there, where we left it. (subject = Our car)
  • Your photos are good. Ours are terrible. (subject = Our photos)
  • Each couple's books are colour-coded. Yours are red. (subject = Your books)
  • I don't like this family's garden but I like yours. (object = your garden)
  • These aren't John and Mary's children. Theirs have black hair. (subject = Their children)
  • John and Mary don't like your car. Do you like theirs? (object = their car)

Notice that the following (with apostrophe [']) do NOT exist: her's, your's, their's

Notice that the interrogative pronoun whose can also be a possessive pronoun (an interrogative possessive pronoun). Look at these examples:





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