English Grammar Tip For This Month

This is the most frequent error that is found in all authors' writing.

Even 'native' English speakers and writers make this very same mistake.

So for this month - the 'English Grammar Tip of the Month'

"Definite and Indefinite Articles"
No.1 Grammar Error for Authors – “the” “a” “an” (Definite and Indefinite Articles).

This is the No.1 error throughout all of the copy editing of manuscripts – be they Scientific Manuscripts, Academic Articles, Thesis, Dissertations, CVs, and so on.

Should it be the ‘Definite Article’ – or an ‘Indefinite Article’?

That is the question faced by all authors.   Even the ‘native’ speakers of the English Language make this query and same mistake too.   So do not feel alone!

In fact, most (ESL & Scientific) authors leave both the Definite Article and the Indefinite Article out altogether – without even considering if it is necessary at all.

So what is the answer and what are the rules?

In the English Language, there are three Articles: “the”, “a”, and “an” “the” is named as being the Definite Article (before a singular or plural noun), while “a” and “an” are called the Indefinite Articles (before a singular noun beginning with a consonant sound, or before a singular noun beginning with a vowel sound).

In simple terms, the Definite Article (the) is used before a noun that is “specific” – for example: “The researcher found that the values were higher than expected” – i.e. there was 1 (one) specific researcher, known to the reader.

Alternatively, for the Indefinite Article - “A researcher found that the values were higher than expected” – i.e. ‘a researcher’ is “not specific”, it could be any researcher, anywhere in the world.

For a noun beginning with a vowel, or with a vowel sounding letter, such as "a, e, i, l, m, o, r, u"
use "an" instead of "a".

This is not always easy to understand and it takes a person with a great knowledge of English Grammar to get this one absolutely correct.

The above explanation is very simple and it will help you – but to be fulfilling, all of this needs a further detailing from an English teacher.   Exceptions to this rule are "UFO", "university" and so on - with them only using "a".    There are always exceptions in the English language.

PRS Proofreading Services will expand on this explanation in more detail in the very near future.   But for now, the above is enough to "get your head around" (idiom = meaning "to understand").

Please Contact Us if you need any further assistance on this one right now.

There will be more on this topic again very soon

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