logo  ELT Concourse for learners of English
Concourse 2

a(n), the and some

think To start you thinking:

What's your first language?

  1. Do you use articles like a and the in your language?
  2. Does your language make a difference between a car and the car?
  3. Does your language make a difference between I like coffee and I want some coffee?

Many languages do not use articles at all.
Many languages use articles very differently from English.
That's why we have this lesson.

write
write

Task 1: translate this into your language.

I gave him a cup.  He put the cup down.

Does your language make a difference between a cup and the cup?

Task 2: translate this into your language.

I gave him some sugar.  He put the sugar in his tea.

Does your language make a difference between some sugar and the sugar?

Now click here.

Task 3:
think Now look at this and think:
Why?

pencils 
  1. Give me a blue pencil, please.
  2. Give me the black pencil, please.

We say a blue pencil but we say the black pencil.  Why?
Click here when you have an answer.

Rule 1: When there is only one of something, we usually say the.

Task 4: Right or Wrong?  Click on the eye open when you want the answer.

pens
Give me a grey pen, please. eye open
Wrong.
There is only ONE grey pen so the we say:
Give me the grey pen, please.
cars
He drives a red car. eye open
Right.
There are LOTS OF red cars.
We don't know which car he drives.
cars
His car is the yellow one.eye open
Right.
There is only ONE yellow car in the picture.
We know which car is his car.
bag
Take a blue bag.eye open
Wrong.
There's only one blue bag in the picture.
We say
Take the blue bag.
lion
The lion is very tiredeye open
Right.
There is only ONE tired lion.
books
Pass me a red book.eye open
Wrong.
There is only one red book.  We say:
Pass me the red book.

What's the difference?

Task 5:
think  think:
What is the difference?
  1. I spoke to a manager.

  2. I spoke to the manager.

eye open

In sentence 1., there is more than one manager.
In sentence 2., there is only one manager.
  1. I went to a park.
  2. I went to the park.

eye open

In sentence 1., it is not important which park.
In sentence 2., we both know the park.
  1. I talked to a policeman.
  2. I talked to the policeman.

eye open

In sentence 1., I don't know which policeman.
Perhaps there are lots of policemen.
In sentence 2., we both know the policeman.
  1. I took an aspirin.
  2. I took the aspirin.

eye open

In sentence 1., there are lots of aspirins.
In sentence 2., there was only one aspirin.
  1. He is a teacher.
  2. He is the teacher.

eye open

In sentence 1., his job is a teacher.
I don't know what he teaches.
In sentence 2., I know him and I know the class he teaches.

a(n) or some?

Task 6:
think  Look at these
biscuit sugar Would you like a biscuit and some sugar?
pen  paper  I have a pen and some paper with me.
wallet  I found a wallet with some money in it.

I can count biscuits: 1 biscuit, 2 biscuits etc.
I can't count sugar.
I can count pens: 1 pen, 10 pens etc.
I can't count paper (but I can count pages).
I can count wallets: 1 wallet, 6 wallets etc.
I can't count money (but I can count dollars, pounds, Euros etc.).

Rule 2: When we can't count it, we use some.

Task 7:
think Now look at these
books  sugar There are some books on the floor.
There is some sugar in the bowl.
pencils  pen  I have some pencils and some paper.

Rule 3: When we can count it and have more than one, we use some.

Task 8: Take a test.

Task 9:
read  Now read this
Why do we use a and the in this story?

A red car stopped and the driver opened the window.
"I'm a tourist here and I'm lost," he said.  "Is there a petrol station near here?"
"I don't know," I said, "I'm a tourist too!"
"Oh.  I need some petrol badly," the driver said. "The car is nearly empty."
A police officer came to the car.
"You can't park here, sir." said the officer.
"I don't want to park the car," the driver said.  "I need some petrol.  Is there a petrol station in the town?"
"Yes," said the police officer.  "There is one in the next street on the left."

Click here when you have an answer.

Task 11:
write Now look out of your window.
What can you see?
Make sentences like these:
  1. I can see a car.  The car is on the corner.
  2. I can see a man.  The man is standing by the car.
  3. I can see a garden.  The garden is in front of a house.  The house is over the road.

Make 5 sentences.

Task 12: Take the last test.