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  • Hello. Welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation. I'm Margot Politis.

  • We're going to look at articles today - indefinite articles 'a' and 'an', and the definite article,

  • 'the'.

  • But first, let's meet an oceanographer. She's talking about using underwater devices to

  • predict weather patterns.

  • See if you can hear her using articles while she talks about monsoons.

  • The monsoon gets a lot of its energy from the equatorial and sub-tropical Indian Oceans.

  • Dr Susan Wijffels, an oceanographer from Australia's CSIRO, is hoping that by measuring the state

  • of the Indian Ocean in those areas, scientists will be able to learn something about monsoon

  • predictability.

  • Predicting the monsoon is a very difficult thing and yet it impacts on millions and millions

  • of people, and so we think that, if we can predict the monsoon usefully, we can make

  • a real difference.

  • We know from El Nino that it's a fully global system, so you just can't study one small

  • part of the ocean and solve these problems. You really need a global integrated observing

  • system, and the Argo program is the first real big ocean attempt to do that, and it's

  • the float technology that's allowed us to even think about doing this.

  • Using articles before nouns is one of the most difficult things in learning English.

  • You can choose between indefinite articles 'a' and 'an', the definite article 'the',

  • or no article at all.

  • Let's start with the indefinite articles 'a' and 'an'.

  • The rule is that 'a' is used before words starting with a consonant, and 'an' is used

  • before words starting with a vowel.

  • So we have a banana, but an apple.

  • There are a couple of exceptions to the rule. Where the consonant 'h' is not pronounced,

  • we use 'an'.

  • So we say a happy man, but an honest man. The 'h' is not pronounced, so honest sounds

  • like it starts with a vowel.

  • Where the vowel 'u' is pronounced like a 'y' sound, we use 'a'.

  • So we say an umbrella, but a user, because user sounds like it begins with a 'y'.

  • 'A' and 'an' are only used with singular nouns. We use 'some' with plural nouns.

  • The indefinite articles 'a' or 'an' are used to refer to indefinite things, things that

  • aren't specific. You use them when you're referring to any member of a group of things.

  • The indefinite article does not refer to a particular thing, but one out of many possible

  • things.

  • If I say I would like a banana, I just want any banana, it doesn't matter which one.

  • Let's look at an example of indefinite articles from the clip.

  • Predicting the monsoon is a very difficult thing and yet it impacts on millions and millions

  • of people, and so we think that, if we can predict the monsoon usefully, we can make

  • a real difference.

  • She uses the indefinite article twice.

  • She says 'predicting the monsoon is a very difficult thing'. There are many things that

  • are difficult to do, and predicting the monsoon is just one of them.

  • Secondly she says 'we can make a real difference'. There are many differences that can be made

  • in the world, but she is just talking about one of them.

  • So when do we use the definite article 'the'?

  • Well, we use it when we're referring to definite, specific things. We also use 'the' when we're

  • talking about one particular member of a group.

  • Luckily there is only one form of the word 'the', and it can refer to both singular and

  • plural nouns.

  • We say the banana and the bananas.

  • There is a difference in pronunciation though, when 'the' comes before a vowel sound, we

  • say 'thee', the apples.

  • So 'thee' before vowel sounds, and 'thuh' before consonant sounds.

  • Let's look at the clip again. Listen for 'the'.

  • You really need a global integrated observing system, and the Argo program is the first

  • real big ocean attempt to do that, and it's the float technology that's allowed us to

  • even think about doing this.

  • She says 'the Argo program'. She uses 'the' because there is only one Argo program. It's

  • a unique, particular thing.

  • She also says 'the float technology'. She is talking about a particular type of float

  • technology, not just any float technology.

  • There was a third 'the'. She said 'the first real big ocean attempt'.

  • We use 'the' in front of first, second and so on, because they refer to something particular

  • or unique.

  • There can be only one first attempt.

  • In the same way we use 'the' in front of superlatives - the best example, the biggest banana and

  • so on - because there can only be one best, or biggest, of anything.

  • OK. So that's the major difference between definite and indefinite articles, but there

  • are other rules as well.

  • We use 'a' and 'an' with countable nouns, that is, if the noun can be counted.

  • I ate an apple. Apples can be counted.

  • We use 'the' with uncountable nouns, with things that you can't count.

  • I swam in the water. (Water cannot be counted.)

  • I drank the milk. (Milk cannot be counted.)

  • We also use 'a' with counting expressions like a bottle of, a cup of, a bit of.

  • Listen to this:

  • The monsoon gets a lot of its energy from the equatorial and sub-tropical Indian Ocean.

  • She says, "The monsoon gets a lot of its energy".

  • Look at the monsoon, and the Indian Ocean.

  • These are both examples of other rules for 'the'.

  • We can use 'the' to describe 'generic nouns'.

  • A generic noun is a noun that describes a category or type of thing. It can often be

  • the same as using a plural noun.

  • So sometimes the monsoon means the same as monsoons. She's talking about monsoons in

  • general.

  • Predicting the monsoon is a very difficult thing and yet it impacts on millions and millions

  • of people, and so we think that, if we can predict the monsoon usefully, we can make

  • a real difference.

  • We know from El Nino that it's a fully global system, so you just can't study one small

  • part of the ocean and solve these problems. You really need a global integrated observing

  • system, and the Argo program is the first real big ocean attempt to do that, and it's

  • the float technology that's allowed us to even think about doing this.

  • And here's another rule. We also use 'the' with oceans, seas, rivers and deserts.

  • We say the Indian Ocean, the Yangtze River, the Gobi Desert.

  • We also use 'the' for points on the globe - the Equator,

  • the Tropic of Capricorn, the North Pole.

  • Choosing the right article can be very confusing, but if you follow the general rule that you

  • use 'the', the definite article, to refer to a particular thing or things, and 'a' and

  • 'an', indefinite articles, to refer to one of a number of things, you shouldn't go too

  • wrong.

  • OK, so now we've seen how to use definite and indefinite articles, but sometimes we

  • don't use articles at all before nouns.

  • Let's look at when to use no article.

  • We've already seen that you can leave the article out when talking about plural generic

  • nouns.

  • Monsoons are unpredictable.

  • But this is true for uncountable generic nouns too.

  • Coffee is delicious.

  • Happiness is hard to find.

  • "Balls are round."

  • OK, so let's look at some sentences.

  • I would like a cake. (I would like one cake, any cake.)

  • I would like the cake. (I would like that particular cake.)

  • I like cakes. (I like all cakes.)

  • Here, cakes with no article is generic. It refers to cakes in general, all cakes.

  • Well that's all for today. Don't forget to practice those articles!

  • I'll see you next time for Study English. Bye Bye.

Hello. Welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation. I'm Margot Politis.

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Study English - Series 1, Episode 13: Under the sea

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    大呆危   に公開 2018 年 06 月 24 日
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