English Articles with Countable Nouns

Overview

This unit covers the use of articles with countable nouns.

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Countable nouns can be preceded by determiners such as definite and indefinite articles. This usually happens with singular countable nouns, but the definite article “the” can also be used with plurals. 

Examples:

He saw a cat in a tree.
Tim and Kathy planted the trees in their backyard.
Roger picked up the empty can.

The first sentence has two countable nouns preceded by the indefinite article “a.” The second example has the definite article “the” before a plural noun, and the last one has “the” before a singular noun.

There are other determiners that can occur before a countable noun, including numbers, possessive pronouns (my, your, his, its, her, our, their), possessive nouns (e.g. my father’s), and demonstratives (this, that, these, those).

Examples:

Your parents are very nice.
Her brother’s surfboard is colorful.
This movie is boring.
I have two bikes.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
Writing:
I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
Reading:
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
Listening:
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.