While learning to speak, children often leave out the articles a, an and the, as the articles make their speech choppy and hard to follow. But as a parent, you must encourage your child to use articles in their sentences and speak full sentences from a young age. Yes! Children should be introduced to articles at an early age. This not only improves their speech and language skills but will also benefit them academically later.
In this article, we have discussed the use of articles a, an and the, the rules of articles and how you can teach your child to use the articles with the help of some activities mentioned in the last section.
What Is An Article?
An article helps identify the noun or a noun phrase that comes after it. There are three articles in the English language: a, an, and the.
For example – After the long day, the cup of coffee tasted particularly good.
With the help of the article “the”, we have shown that it was one particularly long day and one specific cup of coffee that tasted good.
What Are The Two Types Of Articles?
Articles are of two types – definite articles and indefinite articles. Let’s look at them in a little detail.
1. Definite Article
Among “a”, “an”, and “the”, “the” is the definite article. A definite article helps to limit the meaning of the nouns to one specific thing. It can be used with singular, plural, or uncountable nouns. Let’s look at some examples of the definite article:
- Please give me the bottle.
- Please give me the red bottle; the blue one is too small.
- Please give me the cup.
- Please give me the bottle and the cup.
2. Indefinite Article
“A” and “an” are the two indefinite articles. We use “a” when a word is with a consonant, and we use “an” when a word begins with a vowel. These indefinite articles indicate that a noun refers to a common idea rather than a particular thing. Let’s look at some examples of definite articles:
- Please hand me a magazine; any magazine will do.
- Please give an appetiser; any appetiser will do.
Usage Of ‘A’ And ‘An’ Article
Now that you have taught your child the meaning of definite and indefinite articles, it’s time to teach them how to use “a” and “an” articles.
- “A” and “an” are used only where countable nouns are in the singular form.
For example – a cup or an umbrella.
- “A” is used before a consonant, and “an” is used before vowels and with silent h words.
For example – a glass, an apple, or an honest girl.
- “A” and “an” can precede words beginning with a vowel, which have consonant sounds.
For example – I wish to go to a university after school.
- The indefinite articles “a” and “an” cannot be used for things that cannot be counted.
For example – ink, water, milk, and wood.
- The indefinite article “a” and “the” cannot be used before plural nouns and proper nouns.
For example – oranges and Diwali.
Usage Of ‘The’ Article
Let’s look at how and when to use the article “the”.
- The article “the” is used when we speak of a specific person, object or one who has already been referred to.
For example – I saw an ice cream seller passing by. The ice cream seller was wearing a blue shirt.
- “The” article is used with a singular countable noun that represents a whole class.
For example – The horse is a useful animal.
- “The” article is used with superlative forms.
For example – She is the tallest girl.
- “The” article is used before the name of oceans, seas, rivers, gulfs, groups of islands, newspapers, mountain ranges, holy books, etc.
For example – The Arabian Sea, The Himalayas, The Gangotri, The Times of India, The Ramayana, etc.
- The definite article “the” is used before common nouns, which is one of a kind.
For example – The Sun sets in the West.
- “The” article is not used before proper nouns and abstract nouns, names of metals or substances that are used to make things, language names, names of games, and names of meals.
For example – China, India, Rahul, silver, French, football, tea, etc.
How Can You Select Between Definite And Indefinite Articles?
It can be difficult for children to select between using definite and indefinite articles, especially when they start learning about the articles. Below we have covered some points on how to choose between using definite and indefinite articles. Let’s have a look at it.
- The word “the” is the definite article, and the words “a” and “an” are the indefinite article.
- A definite article is used when indicating a particular noun. Whereas an indefinite article is used when talking about a noun that is a general thing.
- A definite article can be used if we are referring to a noun that has been previously mentioned. Whereas an indefinite article can be used when something is being referred to for the first time.
How To Teach Articles To Your Child?
You might have noticed that even after teaching articles to your little one, they might skip using these when talking or writing. Therefore, it is important to teach them how to use articles with the help of examples of a, an, and the article. Let’s look at how to teach articles to your child.
1. Circle The Article
Give your little one a short story to read and ask them to circle all the articles they come across while reading the story.
2. Flashcard Learning
Take a printout of a few things like an apple, cloth piece, egg, etc., and paste them on a flashcard. Now ask your child to explain the things on the flashcard in short sentences using articles, like – This is an apple. The apple is red in colour, etc.
3. Fill In The Articles
On a sheet, write a few sentences and leave the space for your child to fill in the article. For example, you can use the following sentences:
- Give me _ glass.
- Pick up _ red colour book.
- _ apple is red in colour.
- Give me a glass.
- Pick up the red colour book.
- An apple is red in colour.
4. Find The Error
On a sheet, write a few sentences and make sure to use the incorrect articles before the nouns. Give this sheet to your child and ask them to find the errors. For example, you can use the following sentences:
- Can you pass me an glass?
- I saw a accident of the car.
- A movie was perfect.
- That is the excellent book.
- Can you pass me an glass? – a
- I saw a accident of the car. – an, a
- A movie was perfect. – The
- That is the excellent book. – an
This will help your child form a, an, and the article sentences.