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How to Fix Missing Articles
by L



 

Incorrect  article usage is the most common mistake in my students' writing. Even though the basic rules of article usage are not difficult to learn, many errors still prevail because they are usually errors of omission.  You cannot apply the rules if you do not realize that there is an error. Fixing this sentence: "He bought an pumpkin for Halloween,"  is easier than fixing  "He bought pumpkin for Halloween."  Here are some suggestions on how to overcome these problems:


I usually tell my students to read extensively to develop a sense of when something doesn't  sound right.  If you read a novel a week, you will be exposed to thousands of sentences weekly. This will help develop a tingling sensation when something is amiss or used incorrectly. Try it with this sentence: "I have banana in one hand and a orange in  other hand." Hopefully, you found three errors: "I have a banana in one hand and an orange in the other hand." Being exposed to correct English will help you develop an internal sense that will help you to know when there is a mistake.


Another way to check for missing articles is to look for singular count nouns in your sentences. In the sentence in the previous paragraph, banana and hand are both singular nouns that can be counted. A singular count noun requires an article.


However, not everything is what it seems, and you have to be careful not to get confused. Consider this sentence: "My wife had chicken, and I had a hamburger for lunch."  Unless my wife was exceptionally hungry, I would not add an article in front of chicken. To do so would mean that she ate a whole chicken. Without an article, it means the meat of a chicken. She could have had beef, pork, lamb, or fish without having to eat the whole animal.  Thus, the sentence: "She had apple, and I had watermelon," does not require the addition of any articles.  An article in front of apple might be OK, but I don't think I could finish a whole watermelon!


To fix the problem of missing articles, broaden your exposure to good English, look for singular count nouns, and try not to eat a whole chicken for lunch.


See if you can find all 25 missing articles in the mangled version of the essay below:


Incorrect  article usage is most common mistake in my students' writing. Even though basic rules of article usage are not difficult to learn, many errors still prevail because they are usually errors of omission. You cannot apply rules if you do not realize that there is error. Fixing this sentence: "He bought an pumpkin for Halloween,"  is easier than fixing  "He bought pumpkin for Halloween."  Here are some suggestions on how to overcome these problems:


I usually tell my students to read extensively to develop sense of when something doesn't  sound right.  If you read novel week, you will be exposed to thousands of sentences weekly. This will help develop tingling sensation when something is amiss or used incorrectly. Try it with this sentence: "I have banana in one hand and a orange in  other hand." Hopefully, you found three errors: "I have a banana in one hand and an orange in the other hand." Being exposed to correct English will help you develop internal sense that will help you to know when there is mistake.


Another way to check for missing articles is to look for singular count nouns in your sentences. In sentence in previous paragraph, banana and hand are both singular nouns that can be counted. singular count noun requires article.


However, not everything is what it seems, and you have to be careful not to get confused. Consider this sentence: "My wife had chicken, and I had a hamburger for lunch." Unless my wife was exceptionally hungry, I would not add article in front of chicken. To do so would mean that she ate whole chicken. Without article, it means the meat of chicken. She could have had beef, pork, lamb, or fish without having to eat whole animal.  Thus, the sentence: "She had apple, and I had watermelon," does not require addition of any articles.  article in front of apple might be OK, but I don't think I could finish whole watermelon!
To fix problem of missing articles, broaden your exposure to good English, look for singular count nouns, and try not to eat whole chicken for lunch.

 

   





(November 24, 2011)

Visit Last Week's Feature:  FANBOYS: Making Compound Sentences

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