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Writing Center: Chapter 9: A(n)/The/Ø Article About Articles

A guide to information to help you research and write more effectively.

Summary of Chapter 9

Jamie Sexton
Chapter Summary of ESL Writers by Bruce and Rafoth, Second Edition
Chapter 9: “A(n)/The/Ø Article About Articles” by Deckert
            One reason articles may be particularly challenging is that they occur with such incredible frequency in English, The, for example is the most frequently used word in the language, accounting for 6.18 percent of overall words used. A and an make up 2.68 percent of overall words used.
Articles, Determiners, and Noun Phrases
            Noun phrases consist of a noun and any modifiers it may have, and an important part of all noun phrases are determiners. There are three categories of determiners:
1.      Articles: a, an, and the
2.      Possessive determiners—my, our, your, his, her, its, their
3.      Demonstratives—this/these and that/those
Articles can also be indefinite (a/an) or definite (the), depending on the noun being modified in that noun phrase.
Other language, Articles, and Acquisition
            Many other Indo-European languages have both definite and indefinite articles. Arabic, however, has definite articles but not indefinite ones. Chinese and Japanese use other means than articles to show definiteness or indefiniteness.
Articles, Count Nouns, and Meaning
            Nouns that have either singular or plural forms are called count nouns. Similarly, nouns that are not used as singular or plural forms are called Noncount nouns.
Problem that come with Article Usage:
ü  some proper nouns, like United States, require definite articles
ü  Proper nouns can come before the modified noun, confusing writer. For example, I am the MC student.
ü  Missing definite articles
ü  Distinguishing between count/noncount nouns
            Have the writer focus on the context of the sentence, instead of focusing in on the word. Because ESL students know English acquisition better audibly, the tutor may want to read the article out loud. That way, the writer ca hear his mistakes and correct them on their own.