The “articles”: a, an, and the
These are important, even though their correct use can only really be acquired well by continued immersion in English. But the following may help understanding.
1. We say a oran, when we are notnaming a specific thing – just one among many:
She has a dog.
I use a calculator.
before a thing, not a specific object, one of a number of the same objects.
2. We say the when it is clear which thing or person we mean, and the before a thing (a specific object that both the person speaking and the listener know):
The car over there is fast.
The teacher is very good, isn’t he?
3. The first time you speak of something, use a or an, the next time you repeat that object use the.
I live in a house. The house is quite old and has four bedrooms.
I ate in a Chinese restaurant. The restaurant was very good.
4. DO NOT use an article when you are speaking about things in general.
I like Russian tea.
She likes reading books.
5. Then, there is the problem of the confusion of the use of these two:
one of the / a ?
Check your knowledge:
“There are a number of elements causing global warming, such as carbon (CO2). CO2 is mostly the result of the burning of fossil fuels. It is
a. one of the main contributors
b. a main contributor
to total greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.”
Which of the two above, a. or b., is “better”? Why? What is the difference in meaning? Answer: b. is more concise, and is usually sufficient. But a. may be your choice if your idea is that CO2 is one among many contributors.