explanation vocabulary / grammar video show / hide



  3 What is an article

No grammar book pays attention to articles, they mention them as a trivial phenomenon, but in fact they describe much more complex circumstances than for example the adjectives. A yellow house is yellow and not blue, that's quite simple. But if you compare the first a) b) c) sentences with the second a) b) c) sentences you see that the differences which issue from the use of the definite / indefinite article are much more subtle.

Examples
  a) A man crosses the street.
  b) The man, who attacked me yesterday, crosses the street.
  c) The man is the crowning glory of creation, claims man.

If you put an indefinite article instead of a definite article and a definite article instead of an indefinite one you can get strange results.

Examples
  aa) The man crosses the street.
  bb) A man, who attacked me yesterday, crosses the street.
  cc) A man is the crowning glory of creation, claims man.

If we compare a) with aa, b) with bb and c with cc) we see that both versions make sense, but the meaning is completely different and the way the meaning changes doesn't follow a simple rule, the differences are more subtle. In the case of c) for instance the man refers to the human species in general, cc) refers to a single individual.





contact privacy statement imprint