Articles - 02

"Education is from Womb to Tomb!"
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They are 'a', 'an', and 'the' — these three words are called Articles.

'A' is always followed by a word [Noun or Adjective (+ Noun)] beginning with a consonant or sound of a consonant to denote a (certain) single noun.

*E.g.: Human – A human, World – A World, Child – A Child, A idle child – (An idle child) …

'An' is always followed by a word [Noun or Adjective (+ Noun)] beginning with a vowel or a sound of a vowel to denote a single noun.

E.g.: Ox - An ox …

These two words (‘a’ and ‘an’) are called ‘Indefinite Articles’, because they are used with meaning of a certain one or any.

‘The’ is called the ‘Definite Article’ because it is used with particular objects already mentioned or known.

Look at the following passages.

A day or two ago a hawker from the north of Sri Lanka went to the door of a bungalow followed by an old coolie carrying a bundle on his head. The Sri Lankan bade the coolie put the bundle down on a flat stone beside the porch. He gave a knock at the door and called out in the strange Sri Lankan way, with a choking sound, but he had to wait a quarter of an hour before the door was opened and an ugly face peeped out and an angry voice utter the words: “I have a good mind to set the dog on you, if you don’t get a move on!” The Sri Lankan smiled a sunny smile and pointed to the bundle, with an appealing look. But the door was shut in his face with a bang. He waited a little but in the end the only thing he could do was to make the best of it and beat a retreat.
{get a move on = go quickly.}

In this piece articles are underlined; observe them and examine with above learnt rules.
(This lesson is directly related to the next.)

Now, notice that if we change some of these articles from definite to indefinite, or from indefinite to definite, the meaning of the nouns becomes different in peculiar ways. Thus in the first line if we were to change “a hawker” to "the hawker" the word would imply that we already knew him or knew about him. "To set the dog on" implies that there is a only one dog kept; "to set a dog on" would imply that there were more dogs than one kept.

[(*E.g. = Exempli gratia (Latin) = for example)]

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