Welcome to Daily Tips on Learning English. Today’s tip is on using the articles “a”, “an” and “the” correctly.
Every student of English has my sympathy in his struggles with the English articles. They are one of the most difficult parts of learning English. First of all, I urge you to do this. Listen to native speakers. When you listen, listen carefully, since the articles “the” and “a” are almost never emphasized, they do not stand out prominently in speech, but they’re pronounced. You will have to train your ears so that you will recognize that the little sounds before certain words are articles, and not meaningless noises. Also, get in the habit of pronouncing the articles in the way native speakers do. As little sounds that are part of the word they precede. For instance, think of and say “the boy”as one word. Listen to this short sentence. The boy likes the girl. Say it naturally, the boy likes the girl. Did you notice how the articles are just small sounds linked to the nouns? Listen to another example. There is a pen on a desk in the classroom. Say it naturally, there is a pen on a desk in the classroom. Did you notice how all the sounds, especially articles are linked together? The article “an” is used before nouns beginning with a vowel sound, such as “an apple”. Notice how the “n” sound is linked to the word which follows it. Also notice that words that spelled with the letter “h” in the beginning such as “hour” also use the article “an” because the “h” isn’t pronounced. So we say, “an-our”, not “a hour”. And some words spelled with the letter “u” in the beginning such as “unicycle” use the article “a” because the first sound is the “y” sound “j”. So we say, a unicycle, not an unicycle.
It’s also important to note that the pronunciation of the article “the” changes to “δi :” before words beginning with a vowel sound. So we say “δi :” elevator, not “δэ”elevator.
Another tip is, do not be misled by newspaper headlines, advertisements and titles of book and so forth. They frequently omit articles which are necessary in complete sentences in both spoken and written English. Knowing when to use “a”, when to use “the”, and when not to use any article at all is undoubtably one of the most difficult aspects of learning English. We will talk about this topic more in an upcoming daily tip. Tune in tomorrow for another tip on learning English.