Reculiarites of Teaching English (42965)


Peculiarities of Teaching English

Table of Contents


Chapter I. Articles.5

    1. Countable and uncountable nouns.6

    2. The definite article: the......7

    3. The indefinite article: a/an.9

    4. The zero article....10

Chapter II. Different ways of teaching articles...12

2.1 Ways of presenting articles...12

2.2 Memory techniques...18

2.3 Further activities for practicing articles....19

2.4 Testing using articles....21



List of References...28


This paper deals with two types of articles definite (the) and indefinite (a/an), the use of which depends mainly on whether you are referring to any member of a group, or to a specific member of a group. It focuses on different rules of using definite, indefinite and zero articles and peculiarities of teaching articles.

In English, there are two main ways in which you can use a noun group. You can use it to refer to someone or something, knowing that the person you are speaking to understands which person or thing you are talking about. This can be called the specific way of referring to someone or something.

Alternatively, you can use a noun group to refer to someone or something of a particular type, without saying which person or thing you mean. This can be called the general way of referring to someone or something.

In order to distinguish between these two ways of using a noun group, you use a special class of words called determiners. You put them at the beginning of a noun group.

The articles a/an and the belong to a group of words called determiners. The correct use of the articles is one of the most difficult points in English grammar.

The problem of using and teaching articles is of great importance for many reasons. First, the correct use of articles offers difficulties and remains the area of linguistic theory where we different approaches with some important disputable points open to thought and discussion. Second, the pupils ability in the correct use of articles depends mainly on their speaking skills and vocabulary, thats why it is necessary for teachers to be better informed of the ways of presentation and practicing using articles.

The objective of the paper is definite and indefinite articles and peculiarities of teaching articles.

The subject of the paper is different ways of using articles; the complex of exercises and activities applies to teaching articles.

In accordance with the objectives the following tasks are set:

  1. to define and analyze the main ways of using definite, indefinite and zero articles;

  2. to single out the main ways of teaching articles;

  3. to analyze the importance of teaching articles.

The piece of research was carried out on the material of different authors, dictionaries and Internet.

There is much very useful information about articles in several grammar books, such as Longman English Grammar by L.G. Alexander, Using English Grammar: meaning and form by Edward Woods, Nicole McLeod, A Communicative Grammar by Geoffrey Leech and Jan Startvick.

The structure of the work is done in accordance with the general conceptual framework adopted. Part 1 of the paper dwells upon different ways of using articles. Part 2 shows different ways and importance of teaching articles. Conclusions contain the description of the major results of the research.

Chapter 1


We use a number of words in front of common nouns (or adjective + common noun) which we call determiners because they affect (or determine) the meaning of the noun. Determiners make it clear, for example which particular thing(s) we are referring to or how much of a substance we are talking about. Singular countable nouns must normally have a determiner in front of them. There are two classes of determiners.

Definite and indefinite articles belong to the class, which helps us to classify or identify the object.

The correct use of the articles (a/an and the) is one of the most difficult points in English grammar. In most European languages there are rules about when to use (or not to use) indefinite and definite articles. These rules generally depend on the gender of the noun and on whether a word is singular or plural. In English, gender does not affect our choice, but whether a word is singular or plural may do so. Fortunately, however, most mistakes in the use of the articles do not matter too much. Even if we leave all the articles out of a sentence, it is usually possible to understand it.

A/an is called the indefinite article. The is called the definite article. We often use no article at all in English. This non-use of the article is so important that we give it a name the zero article. Articles are used to show whether we are referring to things that are known both to the speaker/writer and to the listener/reader (definite) or that are not known to them both (indefinite). Articles can also show whether we are talking about things in general or particular things.

The use of articles is complicated, because it depends on three different things.

First of all, it makes a difference what kind of noun we are using. Articles are not used in the same way with singular countable nouns (like cat, bridge), with plural countable nouns (like cats, bridges), and with uncountable nouns (like water, rice).

Secondly, we use articles in one way if we are talking about things in general (for example Englishmen, or the guitar, or life in general, or whisky), and we use them in a different way when we are talking about particular examples of these things (for example, an Englishman, or a guitar that we want to buy, or the life of Beethoven).

Thirdly, when we are talking about particular examples, it depends whether these are definite or indefinite. If they are definite we normally use the. If we are talking about indefinite things we use articles differently (a or no article).

    1. Countable and uncountable nouns

Before we look at articles in more detail, the first idea that needs to be understood is the concept of countable and uncountable nouns.

The distinction between countable and uncountable nouns must be clearly understood because it affects our choice of article.

Countable nouns are words like cat, bridge, house, idea. We can count them (one cat, two houses, three ideas), so they can have plurals. The indefinite article a/an really means one, so we can use it with singular countable nouns (a house, an idea), but not with plurals.

We live in a small house.

Ive got an idea.

Im afraid of spiders. (Not: a spiders.)

She was wearing blue trousers. (Not: a blue trousers.)

Uncountable nouns are words like water, rice, energy, luck. These are things that we can divide (a drop of water, a bowl of rice, a piece of luck), but not count. You cannot say one water, two waters, etc. These words do not have plurals. The indefinite article a/an cannot be used with uncountable words.

Its nice weather. (Not: a nice weather).

Water is made of hydrogen and oxygen.(Not: A water ).

A lot of words can be bath countable and uncountable, with different meanings or uses (e.g. iron, an iron; coffee, a coffee). Some plural words have no singular (e.g. trousers, scissors).

A very important point: singular countable nouns must always have an article (or another determiner like my, this). We can say a cat, the cat, this cat, my cat, but not cat. Do not leave out the article before the names of professions. [5:237; 8:55]

1.2 The definite article: the

The is the commonest specific determiner; it is sometimes called the definite article. The usually means something like you know which one(s) I mean. We use the before a noun when our listener/reader knows (or can work out) which particular person(s), thing(s) etc. we are talking about.


Did you lock the car? (The listener knows very well which car is meant).

We hired a car to go to Scotland. (The listener does not know which one).

The listener/reader may know which one(s) we mean because:

  1. we have mentioned it/them before

Shes got two children: a boy and a girl. The boys fourteen and the girls eight.

So what did you do then? Gave the money straight back to the policeman.

The speaker uses the because the listener has already heard about the money and the policeman.

  1. we say which one(s) we mean

Could you close the door? (Only one door is open).

Anns in the kitchen.

Did you enjoy the party?

Whats the time? [12:55]

Basic uses of the

When using the, we must always bear in mind two basic facts:

  1. The normally has a definite reference(a person or the thing referred to is assumed to be known to the speaker or reader).

  2. The can combine with singular countable, plural countable and uncountable nouns (which are always singular).

These two facts underlie all uses of the. Some of the most important of these uses are discussed in the sections that follow.

    • The use of the in time sequences

e.g. the beginning, the middle, the end, the first, the last, the next, the present, the past, the future.

    • The use of the with parts of the day