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Encyclopedia > Article (grammar)
Articles in European languages      indefinite and definite articles      only definite articles      indefinite and postfixed definite articles      only postfixed definite articles      no articles
Articles in European languages      indefinite and definite articles      only definite articles      indefinite and postfixed definite articles      only postfixed definite articles      no articles

An article is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. The three main articles in the English language are the, an and a. An article is sometimes called a noun marker, although this is generally considered to be an archaic term.[1] Look up the in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Definite Article is the title of British comedian Eddie Izzards 1996 performance released on video and CD. The video/DVD and CD performances were both recorded on different nights at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London, England. ... For other uses, see Word (disambiguation). ... In linguistics, a noun or noun substantive is a lexical category which is defined in terms of how its members combine with other grammatical kinds of expressions. ...

It is sometimes wondered which part of speech articles belong to. Despite much speculation, articles are not adjectives because they don't describe nouns; they just agree with them. Linguists place them in a different category, that of determiners. In grammar, a part of speech or word class is defined as the role that a word (or sometimes a phrase) plays in a sentence. ... For the function in NP structure, see Determiner (function). ...

Articles can have various functions:[2]

  • A definite article (English the) is used before singular and plural nouns that refer to a particular member of a group.
The cat is on the black mat.
  • An indefinite article (English a, an) is used before singular nouns that refer to any member of a group.
A cat is a mammal.
  • A partitive article indicates an indefinite quantity of a mass noun; there is no partitive article in English, though the words some or any often have that function.
French: Voulez-vous du café ? ("Do you want some coffee?" or "Do you want coffee?")
  • A zero article is the absence of an article (e.g. English indefinite plural), used in some languages in contrast with the presence of one. Linguists interested in X-bar theory causally link zero articles to nouns lacking a determiner.[citation needed]
Cats are mammals.


The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... It has been suggested that Count noun be merged into this article or section. ... X-bar theory is a component of linguistic theory which attempts to identify syntactic features common to all languages. ...

Logic of definite articles

In English, a definite article is mostly used to refer to an object or person who has been previously introduced. For example: The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...

At last they came to a piece of rising ground, from which they plainly distinguished, sleeping on a distant mountain, a mammoth bear.... Then they requested the eldest to try and slip the belt over the bear's head.
Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, appendix D

In this example, a bear becomes the bear because a "mammoth bear" had been previously introduced into the narrative, and no other bear was involved in the story. Only previously introduced subjects like "the bear" or unique subjects, where the speaker can assume that the audience is aware of the identity of the referent (The heart has its reasons) typically take definite articles in English. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910),[1] better known by the pen name Mark Twain, was an American humanist,[2] humorist, satirist, lecturer and writer. ... Life on the Mississippi cover Life on the Mississippi is a memoir by Mark Twain detailing his days as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War. ...

By contrast, the indefinite article is used in situations where a new subject is being introduced, and the speaker assumes that the hearer is not yet familiar with the subject:

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
— A traditional nursery rhyme

Reflecting its historical derivation from the number word one, the English indefinite article can only be used with singular count nouns. For mass nouns, or for plurals, adjectives or adjective phrases like some or a few substitute for it. In English, pronouns, nouns already having another non-number determiner, and proper nouns usually do not use articles. Otherwise in English, unlike many other languages, singular count nouns take an article; either a, an, or the.[3] Also in English word order, articles precede any adjectives which modify the applicable noun.[citation needed] A nursery rhyme is a traditional song or poem taught to young children, originally in the nursery. ... One redirects here. ... A count noun is a noun which is itself counted, or the units which are used to count it. ... It has been suggested that Count noun be merged into this article or section. ... In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun or noun phrase with or without a determiner, such as you and they in English. ... For the function in NP structure, see Determiner (function). ... A proper noun is a noun that picks out a unique entity. ... In grammar, an adjective is a word whose main syntactic role is to modify a noun or pronoun (called the adjectives subject), giving more information about what the noun or pronoun refers to. ...

In French, the masculine definite article le (meaning the) is contracted with a following word if that word begins with a vowel sound. When the French words de and le are to be used sequentially (meaning of the), the word du is used instead, in addition to the above mentioned use of du as a partitive article.

In various languages other than English, masculine and feminine forms of articles differ. Singular and plural forms of articles can also differ in other languages. Many languages do not use articles at all, and may use other ways of indicating old vs. new information, such as topic-comment constructions. In linguistics, the topic (or theme) is the thing being predicated (talked about), and the comment (or rheme) is the thing being said about the topic. ...


The word the is the only definite article of the English language. The is the most common word in the English language.[4] In grammatical theory, definiteness is a feature of noun phrases, distinguishing between entities which are specific and identifiable in a given context (definite noun phrases) and entities which are not (indefinite noun phrases). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...

The article the is used in English as the very first part of a noun phrase. For example: The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Look up noun phrase in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

The end of time begins now.

Here "the end of time" is a noun phrase. The use of the signals that the reference is to a specific and unique instance of the concept (such as person, object, or idea) expressed in the noun phrase. Here, the implication is that there is one end of time, and that it has arrived.

The time is 3:29 PM.

There are many times, but the meaning here is the time now, of which (at the moment the sentence was produced) there is only one.


Linguists believe that the common ancestor of the Indo-European languages (i.e., the Proto-Indo-European language) did not have a definite article. Most of the languages in this family do not have definite or indefinite articles; there is no article in Latin, Sanskrit, Persian or in some modern Indo-European languages, especially in Slavic languages - Russian, Slovak and Czech, etc (the only Slavic languages that have articles are Bulgarian and Macedonian) and in the Baltic languages - Latvian, Lithuanian and Latgalian. Errors with the use of the and other determiners are common in people learning English (e.g., native Czech-speaker Ivana Trump, first wife of Donald Trump, referring to him as "the Donald"). Classical Greek has a definite article (which happens to be very similar to the definite article in German, but with t instead of German d), but Homeric Greek did not. In the etymologies of these and many other languages, the definite article arose by a demonstrative pronoun or adjective changing its usage; compare the fate of the Latin demonstrative "ille" (meaning "that") in the Romance languages, becoming French le, la, l’, and les, Spanish el, la, lo, los, and las, Italian il, la, lo, l’, i, gli, and le, and Portuguese o, os, a, and as. For other uses, see Indo-European. ... The Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) is the hypothetical common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans. ... For other uses, see Latins and Latin (disambiguation). ... Sanskrit ( , for short ) is a classical language of India, a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and one of the 23 official languages of India. ... Farsi redirects here. ... Latgalian language can mean one of the following: It was a language spoken by Latgalians in a great part of the area which is now Latvia. ... Ivana Trump (born Ivana Marie Zelníčková IPA: on February 20, 1949) is a former Olympic athlete and fashion model also noted for her celebrity brand and marriage to mogul Donald J. Trump. ... Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946 in Queens, New York, New York) is an American business executive, entrepreneur, television and radio personality and author. ... Homeric Greek is the form of Ancient Greek that was used by Homer in the Iliad and Odyssey. ... The Romance languages (sometimes referred to as Romanic languages) are a branch of the Indo-European language family that comprises all the languages that descend from Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. ...

The and that are common developments from the same Old English system. Old English had a definite article se, in the masculine gender, seo (feminine), and þæt (neuter). In Middle English these had all merged into þe, the ancestor of the Modern English word the. Old English redirects here. ... In linguistics, grammatical gender is a morphological category associated with the expression of gender through inflection or agreement. ... Look up that in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Middle English is the name given by historical linguistics to the diverse forms of the English language spoken between the Norman invasion of 1066 and the mid-to-late 15th century, when the Chancery Standard, a form of London-based English, began to become widespread, a process aided by the... Merge, merging, or merger can have several different meanings: In business and economics, a merger is the combination of two companies into one larger company In computer science, either: the merge algorithm which combines two or more sorted lists into a single sorted one the merge sort, a sort algorithm... Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ...

In Middle English the (þe) was frequently abbreviated as a þ with a small e above it, similar to the abbreviation for that, which was a þ with a small t above it. During the latter Middle English and Early Modern English periods, the letter Thorn (þ) in its common script, or cursive, form came to resemble a y shape. As such the use of a y with an e above it as an abbreviation became common. This can still be seen in reprints of the 1611 edition of the King James Version of the Bible in places such as Romans 15:29, or in the Mayflower Compact. Note that the article was never pronounced with a y sound, even when so written. Middle English is the name given by historical linguistics to the diverse forms of the English language spoken between the Norman invasion of 1066 and the mid-to-late 15th century, when the Chancery Standard, a form of London-based English, began to become widespread, a process aided by the... Shakespeares writings are universally associated with Early Modern English Early Modern English refers to the stage of the English language used from about the end of the Middle English period (the latter half of the 1400s) to 1650. ... Þþ Thorn, or þorn (Þ, þ), is a letter in the Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic alphabets. ... Cursive is any style of handwriting which is designed for writing down notes and letters by hand. ... The King James or Authorized Version of the Bible is an English translation of the Christian Bible first published in 1611. ... This bas-relief depicting the signing of the Mayflower Compact is on Bradford Street in Provincetown directly below the Pilgrim Monument. ...

Reduction and omission

The article is omitted in prepositional phrases that refer to traveling to places where a change in social behaviors is required.[citation needed] Hence the pattern "Mary had a little lamb. ... It followed her to school one day" (rather than "to the school") is standard, as is "I'll see you in court" (rather than "in the court"). Most English speakers say "in town" but "in the city". All English speakers say "go to college"; British speakers will also say "go to university" and "go to hospital" (for American speakers, it is "go to the hospital"). These phrases are a matter of custom rather than following clear rule.
In fact, there is continuing debate over the use and semantics of NPs with articles. It is more customary to consider the article as 'not used' rather than 'omitted' in these cases, as claiming that something is 'omitted' is to make wider claims about the grammatical system that are far from easy to substantiate. The reason for not using an article is not so much that a change of behaviour is required, as claimed above, but more that the NP under the scope of the article is referred to as an institution as opposed to a particular place. "I'll see you in court" for a court case as opposed to "I'll see you in the court" because this is where we are meeting next. Also, I study "at university" (institution), but left my jacket "in the university" (location). Exceptions, as usual, seem to be the rule, as e.g. "I went to the police station" is used in both senses.

In news headlines and informal writing, such as notes or diaries, the definite article and some other particles are often omitted, for example, "Must pick up prescription at pharmacy today." Look up prescription in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Pharmacy (disambiguation). ...

In some Northern England dialects of English, the is pronounced as [tə] (with a dental t) or as a glottal stop, usually written in eye dialect as <t>; in some dialects it reduces to nothing. This is known as definite article reduction; see that article for further details. For dialects of programming languages, see Programming language dialect. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Voiceless alveolar plosive. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... In orthography, eye dialect is the use of non-standard spellings (spellings considered incorrect) to create the effect of a dialectal, foreign, or uneducated speaker. ... Definite Article Reduction (DAR) is the term used in recent linguistic work to refer to the use of vowel-less forms of the definite article in northern dialects of England. ...

In dialects that do not have /ð/ (voiced dental fricative), the is pronounced with a voiced dental plosive, as in /d̪ə/ or /d̪iː/). The voiced dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. ... The voiced dental plosive is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. ...

Country names

In English most countries never take the definite article, but there are many that do. It is commonly used with many country names which derive from names of island groups (the Philippines), mountain ranges (the Lebanon), deserts (the Sudan), and other geographic expressions (the Netherlands). Such use is declining, but for some countries it remains common. Since the independence of Ukraine, most style guides have advised dropping the article, in part because the Ukrainian government was concerned about a similar issue involving prepositions. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... For other uses, see Lebanon (disambiguation). ... Foreign relations Main article: Foreign relations of Sudan Sudan has a territorial dispute with Egypt over the Halaib Triangle. ... Motto: Je Maintiendrai (Dutch: Ik zal handhaven, English: I Shall Uphold) Anthem: Wilhelmus van Nassouwe Capital Amsterdam1 Largest city Amsterdam Official language(s) Dutch2 Government Parliamentary democracy Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Beatrix  - Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende Independence Eighty Years War   - Declared July 26, 1581   - Recognised January 30, 1648 (by Spain... The name Ukraine (Ukrainian: , ) has been used in a variety of ways since the twelfth century. ...

The U.S. Department of State [1] and CIA World Factbook [2] show the definite article with only two countries: The Bahamas and The Gambia. The United States Department of State, often referred to as the State Department, is the Cabinet-level foreign affairs agency of the United States government, equivalent to foreign ministries in other countries. ... World Factbook 2004 cover The World Factbook is an annual publication by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with basic almanac-style information about the various countries of the world. ...


According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary, "the" is pronounced with a flat vowel sound (as in "uh") before words beginning with consonants (e.g. b, c, d, f), and usually with a long vowel sound (as in "tree") before words beginning with vowels (a, e, i, o, u) except in cases of proper nouns or emphasis. [5] A recent trend observed in broadcast media whereby reporters use only the flat vowel sound, with aspirated emphasis before vowel-beginning words, suggests that the long-vowel sound pronunciation may be phased out of the working language in the years to come.

See also

Look up the in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ... Look up a in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In grammatical theory, definiteness is a feature of noun phrases, distinguishing between entities which are specific and identifiable in a given context (definite noun phrases) and entities which are not (indefinite noun phrases). ... A definite description is a denoting phrase in the form of the X where X is a noun-phrase or a singular common noun. ... For the function in NP structure, see Determiner (function). ... Al- is not a permanent component of words, as shown here with , the Arabic for Bahrain. ... This article is about Internet slang terminology; for information on the Indonesian drink, see Teh botol; for information on the Hokkien/Malay surname, see Zheng (surname). ...


  1. ^ Articles, Determiners and Quantifiers
  2. ^ The Use and Non-Use of Articles
  3. ^ Sidney Greenbaum, The Oxford English Grammar (Oxford University Press, 1996) ISBN 0-19-861250-8
  4. ^ World English. The 500 Most Commonly Used Words in the English Language. Retrieved on 2007-01-14.
  5. ^ http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/the

Year 2007 (MMVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. ... is the 14th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Grammar - Search View - MSN Encarta (1644 words)
These types of grammar constitute a part of linguistics that is distinct from phonology (the linguistic study of sound) and semantics (the linguistic study of meaning or content).
Grammar to the prescriptivist, historian, comparativist, functionalist, and descriptivist is then the organizational part of language—how speech is put together, how words and sentences are formed, and how messages are communicated.
His idea of grammar is that it is a device for producing the structure, not of langue (that is, not of a particular language), but of competence—the ability to produce and understand sentences in any and all languages.
Grammar - MSN Encarta (1678 words)
Grammar is the study of the rules governing the use of any given spoken language, and, as such, is a field of linguistics.
This kind of grammar is called normative, or prescriptive, because it defines the role of the various parts of speech (see Parts of Speech) and purports to tell what is the norm, or rule, of “correct” usage.
A structural grammar should describe what the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure referred to by the French word langue—denoting the system underlying a particular language—that is, what members of a speech community speak and hear that will pass as acceptable grammar to other speakers and hearers of that language.
  More results at FactBites »



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