Grammar World | How Important Are Articles in Sentence Structures?

By Moshood Alabi, PhD Candidate, University of Lagos

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Introduction
One of the linguistic constraints of some users of the English Language especially the class with some levels of competence is the omission of the indefinite article before a singular count noun. This piece is a continuation of the previous one on the uses of the indefinite article.
Uses of the Indefinite Article
From the name indefinite article, it means that an article that cannot specifically define the noun it qualifies.
How? That is the question that this piece answers.
Here are some of the uses of an indefinite article
The first use of an indefinite article is that it is used to mention someone, something or a unit.
Examples:
A man was here this morning.
A litre is enough.
The second usage is that  it makes a proper noun look common
Examples:
A Satan has arrived.
He talks like an Obama.
Thirdly, it is used before an unknown name or surname.
Example:
A Mr. Smith was here to see you.
Fourth, an indefinite article is used to mean THE SAME.
Example:
Birds of a feather….meaning birds of  the same feather.
Another use of an indefinite article is that it is used to denote a profession. This can be exemplified in the expression: He is a lawyer.
Indefinite articles are also used before the following words: dozen, hundred, thousand, million, headache,mistake, noise, cough, cold, interest, hurry, fortune, misfortune and pain.
Examples:
Do not make a noise.
I have a headache.
According to Thompson and Matinet, indefinite articles are used to indicate a class as a whole.
For example, if one says: A cow has horns. It means all cows have horns.
Oscar Wilde added that it is used before the superlative MOST to mean VERY.
He met a most important person.
Finally, it can be used before the determiners:
Examples:
a little…, a few…, a lot of….
In conclusion, it is very important to use the indefinite articles appropriately so that our sentence construction can the convey the meaning we intend.
References
Das P.C(2012) Applied English Grammar and Composition .London: New Central Book Agency
Good C.A(2002) Who’s Whose Grammar Book Is This Anyway? New York: Capital Books

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