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Sotaro Takahashi
How to use "a" and "the" correctly. How do native English speakers use "a" and "the"?

I'd like to find sense of native English speakers. Please answer this question.

May 9, 2019 9:21 AM
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You are very welcome. I am glad I could help. 
May 9, 2019

- Articles are used to help us understand specific vs. general information. (=use 'the' for specific and 'a/an' for general information)

We use 'the' when we are thinking of a specific thing and when it is clear in the situation which thing or person we mean.

For example:

'Can you turn off the light, please?' (=the light in this room)

'I took a taxi to the station.' (=the station in that town)

'Tom sat down on the chair nearest the door' (=a specific chair)

'Tom sat down on a chair.' (=perhaps one of many chairs in the room)

'I'd like to speak to the manager, please' (=the manager of this shop/company, etc.)


- Articles also help us differentiate between new and old information. 

'I had sandwich and an apple for lunch.' (=it is the first time the speaker talks about them) The sandwich wasn't very tasty, but the apple was fine' (=the listener knows which sandwich and which apple the speaker means, and this is old information)



May 9, 2019

I think of a/an as like saying there's a cloud of X's and we're going to pick out out at random, where as "the" is more like an arrow pointing to a particular X.

I think the official definition is with "the" you know which X you are talking about, and with "a/an" you don't.

May 9, 2019
Thank you for your comment .

It was clear to understand.

May 9, 2019
Sotaro Takahashi
Language Skills
English, Japanese
Learning Language
English