Article Summary



Article Diagnostic: identify specific points that need review

bee pollinating flower

Quiz 1: beginning – intermediate

Quiz 2: intermediate – advanced

Overview of Determiners (noun markers)

Determiners: recognize a variety of noun markers

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

phone friends

A friend called. / *Friend called. 
Friends called.

This / that friend called.
These / those / some / three friends called. 

A hair is on your sweater.
Hair makes a guy look young.  

A—Unspecific/Specific (Any, A particular one)

A–Any One: refer to something as an example of all

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


Making a violin requires more than technical knowledge. (unspecific – any one)

We gave a violin to the music school. (specific)

A–One in Particular: refer to a specific item (first mention)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


A comet appears to have a tail as it streaks through the sky.(unspecific)

A comet was seen in the western sky last night. (specific)

A / An: blend article sounds before nouns

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


This is a global business.   /ˈg/ 

This is an electronic business. /ɪ/

The company has an NIH grant.   /ˈɛn/ 

The director has a university e-mail address./ˌyu/

The director has an unlisted e-mail address. /ʌn/

All—Plural Form

Plural–All in General: make generalizations about the group

Beginning– Intermediate ESL


Dogs are descended from wolves.

The dog is descended from the wolf.  (scientific & reference books)


The—Indefinite one vs. Definite one

The–Definite One: refer to an identified one

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

salami - specific one

Salami is very salty. (indefinite – all in general)

The salami I just cut is very salty. (definite–this one)


The–Classification: refer to typical characteristics and behavior (indefinite)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

The Lion

The lion sleeps much of the day. (indefinite– all in general)

A lion sleeps much of the day.  (any one as an example)

The–Earlier Mention:  refer to something that is already known

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Puzzle Piece

This is a puzzle piece. The piece fits into a puzzle.
(first mention)              (second mention)

The– Included Parts: refer to expected parts within a mentioned noun

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

puzzle piece fitting into puzzle

This is a puzzle.  The pieces are inside the box. 
(first mention) — (an expected part of an already mentioned item)

The– Later Mention:  refer to a noun identified by information after it

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

holding puzzle piece

The part on top is here.  (identified by modifier)

The part that I am holding is a corner.  (ident. by clause)

The part you see is a corner. (ident. by clause)

The–Shared Knowledge: refer to a noun that is already known

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

the last piece

Hand me the piece.   (ident. by both see or know it)

Hand me the last piece. (ident. by being unique, the only one)

The—Special Uses

The–Nationality : recognize word forms for nationality (Demonyms)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

an Englishman

He is an Englishman. (unspecific)

He is English. (adjective of nationality)

The English are northern people. (specific nationality)


The–Group: refer to a group with a descriptor (adjectival name)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

the blind

The blind need accessible walkways.

The English  were proud of their team.

Do you want a large or small coffee.  I'll have the large.

The latter will be much better.  In fact,  it's the best.

The–Landmarks: recognize buildings and landmarks that are marked with the

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a beautiful landmark.  (specific)

The–Geography:  recognize natural land forms that are marked with the

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Bay Area Satellite

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I live on the Peninsula.

I live in the coastal hills.

The-Countries: recognize country names that are marked with the

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Map of U.S

She lives in France.

I live in the United States of America.

He lives in the Netherlands.

The-Superlatives: state a unique degree of a noun; don't forget the.

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


He is the most convincing actor of all.

He is the least likable character in the film.

It was the saddest movie ever.


Another / The other: specify one more or the rest

Beginning– Intermediate ESL

milk and cookies

She ate one.  (a cookie)

Then she ate another (one more)

Then she ate the others (the rest of the group)

She ate other cookies. (not these)

The–Identified Nouns: recognize when to switch from a to the

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

college grad

The kids who are starting college this fall across nation were born in 1994.

They do not remember .....

Article Use Prac: practice article use in a restaurant review

Chez Panisse

"Chez Panisse Café " is a less-expensive alternative to Alice Waters' restaurant "Chez Panisse".



Demonstratives: specify which one — this, that, these, those

Beginning– Intermediate ESL

this blue marble

This blue marble is mine. (determiner)

This marble is mine. (determiner)

This is mine. (pronoun)


The more, the more: indicate that two things vary together

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

 couple looks at wreakage

The more we saw, the less we could believe.

The bigger, the better.

Related Pages

Most / Most of the: specify a majority in a group

Intermediate– Advanced ESL, Native Speakers


Most students ask questions.
Most of the students in my English class ask questions.

A number of the students in my class ask questions.
The number of the students who ask questions is low.

Food Quantifiers: specify amounts or units

Beginning ESL – Intermed.

a sack of rice 

We bought a sack, a bag, a box of rice.

I'd like a glass, a bottle, a gallon, a liter of milk.

We bought a stalk of celery, a spear of asparagus, a head of lettuce, a wheel of cheese, an ear of corn, a cube of ice, a bar of chocolate.

 a pork chop, a beef steak, a roast lamb, a leg of lamb, a ham   

Beef comes from a steer. Veal comes from a calf.

Genitive Pronouns:  mark nouns for possession 

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Naughty Dog

Our dog is barking at other dogs. (determiner)

Their dogs are running away.

Your dog dislikes getting wet.

Collective Genitive Pronouns: use genitive pronouns with collective nouns

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers


The paparazzi made its purpose clear. It had a right to be outside her house.

The paparazzi placed their cameras right in her face. They were rude, even mean.