One of the problems in the use of the English is the choice between A or An. Users are generally categorized into two in the use of articles. The first category are the people who do not use the articles at all. The second category are the people that use the articles wrongly. This piece is an opportunity for the appropriateness in the use of the articles.
What are articles?
Wren and Martin define articles as demonstrative adjectives. However, P.C. Das defines them as DETERMINERS. Hence, I believe that the two linguists are on the same page because both demonstrative adjectives and determiners are pre-modifiers of a noun. They usually precede a noun in a sentence.
Why do we need articles?
Articles are needed to indicate a particular noun(definite article),and to indicate a general noun(indefinite article). In other words, articles are needed to indicate that the users have some shared knowledge about the word being used or not.
Types of articles
Articles are generally divided into two:
Definite article( The)
Indefinite article (A/An)
Let’s examine the indefinite article A/An
Obviously,there can be some constraints in identifying the differences between what each word agrees with. It must be established here that the indefinite article A/An represents one of the countable determiners. They can grammatically agree with only countable nouns.
Yes! Countable nouns.
I can say,
I cannot say,
All these nouns are uncountable.
*A*., as an indefinite article, agrees with a word that begins with a Consonant Sound. A consonant letter is not the same as a Consonant sound .
In some words,there can be a Consonant Letter at the beginning but the sound is not. There are *TWENTY-ONE* consonant letters while there are *TWENTY- FOUR* consonant sounds in English.
Also,there is a difference between the vowel sounds and the vowel letters. There are just FIVE vowel letters in English and they are:(A,E,I,O,U) ,but the vowel sound are TWENTY.
Why all these analyses?
It is to demonstrate the proper usage of the indefinite articles A and An and the words they agree with.
I can say,
All the words begin with a Consonant letter.
Let’s examine these:
A European man
All these words begin with vowel letters that produce a consonant sound.
The consonant sound produced by the vowel sound is /j/. This sound is mostly produced by letter Y which is a Consonant sound.
Ewe,for example, is a homophone of the word YOU. By homophones,I mean words that are pronounced the same way.
It is also easy to say,
All the words begin with a vowel letter.
However,let’s examine these examples:
An honest man
The letters are consonant but they produce vowel sounds.
X-ray,for example,is pronounced as Eks-ray
The first sound is the vowel sound E
In the case of the word honest, A.L.D Honrby stated that A comes in place of An when H sounds *HAW* as in :
Well, H is silent at the initial position in just five words and any word emanating from them. These words are :
In other words where letter H is at the initial position, A is used.
This piece has been used to examine the indefinite articles especially the differences in the use of A and An. Is that all? Definitely,no. Usages of the indefinite articles will be examined in the next piece.
Alabi .M.(2012) _Communication Skills_ . Lagos: J.J .Publishers
. PC Dac(2012) _Applied English Grammar and Composition_ London:New Central Book Agency
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