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Innovative English Training
Thursday the 27th of January, 2005
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ERRORS WITH ARTICLES

Good morning. This week we have reviewed (very briefly) basic rules for when to use indefinite articles (A/AN), the definite article (THE) and when not to use articles. Today we're going to look at some typical translation errors that Spanish speakers make when speaking English. But first I wanted to thank Montse F. for pointing out (yesterday) that we also DO NOT use articles with possession ('s). So, sentence (a) below is incorrect, and sentence (b) is correct. a) ***The Linda's dog is a German Shepard. (INCORRECT)*** b) Linda's dog is a German Shepard. (CORRECT) And now back to today's Daily Vitamin. See if you can explain why each sentence below is erroneous and correct it. The corrections come after these sentences. Erroneous Sentence 1 I am teacher. Erroneous Sentence 2 The English is not difficult. Erroneous Sentence 3 The Times Square is a tourist attraction in London. Erroneous Sentence 4 The love is a beautiful thing. Erroneous Sentence 5 What time do you have the lunch? Erroneous Sentence 6 The last summer I went to Ibiza. ANSWERS TO ERRONEOUS SENTENCES Answer to Erroneous Sentence 1 Reason: We use the indefinite article to say what someone's job is. Correction: I'm a teacher. Answer to Erroneous Sentence 2 Reason: We don't use the definite article with languages. Correction: English is not difficult. Answer to Erroneous Sentence 3 Reason: We don't use the definite article with most place-names or people's names (although there are exceptions). Correction: Times Square is a tourist attraction in London. Answer to Erroneous Sentence 4 Reason: We don't use the definite article to refer to things in general. Abstract nouns (love, peace, beauty) are usually used without an article unless we are referring to a specific case. Correction: Love is a beautiful thing. (Love in general.) The love of a mother for her baby will ensure the baby's survival. (Specific case of love.) Answer to Erroneous Sentence 5 Reason: We don't use articles with meals. ("To have breakfast", "before lunch", "for dinner", etc.) Correction: What time do you have lunch? Answer to Erroneous Sentence 6 Reason: We don't use the definite article with next-last + a period of time. Correction: Last summer I went to Ibiza. These are only some of the special cases for using articles in English that can cause problems for Spanish speakers. A good grammar book can give you a more complete explanation of how to use articles in English and will also give you practice exercises. Reading in English is also a good way to observe how articles are used in context. Thanks to Yolanda C. for suggesting this topic. I hope we have answered your question, Yolanda! If anyone has any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. I hope you have a nice day!