English Grammar (articles): 'A' and 'the' in two weeks
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English Grammar (articles): 'A' and 'the' in two weeks

Learn how to use the English article system to make your speaking and writing more accurate and professional.
4.0 (29 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
196 students enrolled
Last updated 2/2017
Current price: $12 Original price: $20 Discount: 40% off
3 days left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 1 Article
  • 1 Supplemental Resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion

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What Will I Learn?
  • You will be better able to choose article and noun combinations in your speaking and writing, especially in business and personal emails. This will make your speaking and writing more accurate and professional.
View Curriculum
  • It will be helpful to have a really basic knowledge of some grammar terms such as nouns and articles. Other than that students do not have to know or do anything special before the course.

Course Description

Choosing the right article such as ‘the’ or ‘a’ or ‘an’ to go with a noun is a tricky and difficult part of English grammar. This course will guide you through the key principles that you need to know to make accurate article choices in English.

Improve your mastery of articles to become more accurate and professional in your speaking and writing.

  • Learn four rules of thumb for mastering articles
  • Listen to experienced writers thinking aloud about article choice
  • Practice choosing articles in easy to follow videos and animations

Master those small but vital words to become a better writer in English

'The', 'a' and 'an' are some of the smallest and most common words in the English language. Their correct use can make an enormous difference to whether a speaker or writer is seen as accurate and professional. But they are very difficult to master; especially for learners whose first language does not include an article system. In this course we will show you the most common principles behind article choice. Through explanations, examples and quizzes we’ll help you to improve your knowledge of and mastery of articles.

Contents and Overview

The course consists of 14 lectures that guide you through the key principles for article choice.

These are:

  • Whether a noun is countable or uncountable
  • Whether information is new or known
  • Whether a noun is specific or generic
  • If a noun takes a fixed phrase

After we introduce the principles we give many examples and talk through the logic of article choice. Through exercises and quizzes you will gradually get better at making accurate choices which will make your speaking and writing better and give a more professional impression.

A good dictionary, whether a paper one or an online version, is a vital tool for a language learner. In addition, we show how to use a free online word analysis tool called Ngram viewer. This gives us fascinating insights into words and phrases which can help us choose the right form.

Once you have watched the videos, listened to the mini-lectures or animations and tried out the quizzes we are sure you will be better able to make better article choices and feel more confident and capable about your English speaking and writing.

So, we wish you happy article learning!

Who is the target audience?
  • Anybody from business people to language students who are struggling to choose the correct article in their English writing.
Compare to Other English Grammar Courses
Curriculum For This Course
14 Lectures
Getting started
1 Lecture 02:53

In this lecture we introduce ourselves and the course.

Preview 02:53

Choose the correct options

Day 1: Introduction
5 questions
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
3 Lectures 10:00

There are two types of noun groups in English: countable and uncountable. In this lecture we will help you understand the differences. This will help you to make better article choices.

Day 2: Countable and Uncountable Nouns (1)

Which is correct?

Day 2: Countable or Uncountable?
5 questions

In our last lesson we looked at differences between countable and uncountable nouns. 

In this lesson we’ll look in more detail at this topic focusing on four kinds of uncountable nouns: group, abstract, substances and school subjects.

Day 3: Countable and Uncountable (2)

Day 3: Countable or Uncountable?
10 questions

In this section we would like you to review once again about countable nouns and uncountable nouns. It is very important to practice over and over again in order to master the language.

Day 4: Countable and Uncountable (3)

Day 4: Spot the mistake--Countable or Uncountable?
5 questions

Day 4: Countable or Uncountable?
7 questions
Extra resources: Ngram Viewer - Basics
1 Lecture 05:02

It can be quite difficult to try to decide what kind of noun is countable or uncountable, and it could take a long time to remember them all. 

But there are some tools that can help you. Of course a dictionary is the most wonderful tool but sometimes we need a bit more help.

One such tool is free provided by Google. It is called Ngram viewer. In  this lecture we take a look at what it can do.

Preview 05:02
New and Known Information
3 Lectures 15:02

In this lesson we will look at whether nouns carry known or new information - this is one of the reasons to choose the.

There are four possible combinations of new and known information. These depend on the point of view of the speaker and listener. 

We will look at each in turn.

Preview 03:03

Day 6: Fill in the blank with "a", "the", or "no article."
5 questions

We have seen in the previous lectures that there are four different combinations of new and known information that impact on our choice of articles.

In this lesson we look at four different emails which have examples of these combinations in context.

Preview 07:01

Day 7: Fill in the blank with 'a', 'the' or 'no article'.
9 questions

In previous lessons we explained how countable nouns can take a or an, or take plural forms. In order to make our explanations as clear as possible, we did not talk about plurals much in our previous lessons. 

In this lesson, we will complete rule 2 (new or known information) by including examples of plural forms as well. The examples are taken from an informal email exchange.

Day 8: New or Known Information (3)

Choose the correct articles to make the email make sense.

Day 8: New and Known Information
4 questions
Specific and Generic
3 Lectures 15:36

In this lesson we introduce our third rule which is whether a noun is specific or generic.

In previous lesson our examples applied to individual nouns (such as water or apple). In this lesson we give examples using common noun preposition noun phrases (such as 'a solution to a problem').

Day 9: Specific and Generic (1)

Choose the correct article combination

Day 9: Specific and Generic (1)
8 questions

In the previous lesson, we learned the difference between specific and generic using noun preposition noun patterns with countable nouns.

In this lesson we add uncountable noun examples.

Day 10: Specific and Generic (2)

Specific or Generic (Part 2)

Please choose the correct combination of articles for each sentence

Day 10: Specific and Generic (2)
10 questions

In this lesson we continue to look at rule 3 (specific or generic) in a systematic way.

We look at countable noun preposition noun examples and contrast them with uncountable ones. 

Day 11: Specific and Generic (3)

Please choose the most appropriate article combination

Day 11: Specific and Generic (3)
8 questions
Fixed phrases: Time, Location and Greetings
1 Lecture 04:37

In this lesson we move on to our fourth and final rule. This is less a rule but more some examples of fixed phrases that don’t really change very much.

There are three main types: to do with time; with location; and, greetings.

We look at each in turn. 

Preview 04:37

Day 12: Fixed phrases
9 questions
Articles in email messages
1 Lecture 05:57

In this lesson we put all four rules together. 

We review the four rules and then practically apply them in a business email.

Day13: Articles in e-mails

Day13: Articles in e-mails
7 questions
A Few Final Issues
1 Lecture 05:00

In this final lesson we briefly mention three article uses that might have been puzzling you during the course:

1. Nouns that are both countable and uncountable.

2. Examples of nouns that take ‘the’ when you might not expect it including nationalities and musical instruments. 

3. Finally, a brief word on pronunciation. 

Day 14: A Few Final Issues

Choose the correct article for each situation.

Day 14: A Few Final Issues
9 questions
About the Instructor
Neil Cowie
4.0 Average rating
29 Reviews
196 Students
1 Course
English Professor

I have been an English teacher in the UK and Japan for 25 years. I have taught thousands of students of all ages and from different kinds of backgrounds. I have a Master's Degree in Teaching English from Aston University in the UK and I am a Doctor in Education (Exeter University, UK). 

I have written over thirty academic articles and chapters in journals and books as well as published textbooks and various kinds of teaching materials. I love teaching face to face in the classroom but I also think online courses and materials are a brilliant way to try and put ideas and thoughts across to students who can learn at their own pace and in their own time. 

It is not easy to learn another language - as I know from my struggles with Japanese - but it is a wonderful tool to meet new people and make friends, learn about other places and use in your job. I hope that I can help you attain whatever goal you have for learning English.

Keiko Sakui
4.0 Average rating
29 Reviews
196 Students
1 Course

Hello, my name is Keiko. I have taught English and Japanese in Japan, New Zealand and the US. Learning a foreign language is difficult because it takes so much time and effort to master a language. But if you do, it presents a great number of opportunities to you! You can travel and enjoy yourself, you can make friends from all over the world, and you can move up your career ladder.

I studied language teaching in my Master’s and PhD degrees and am currently teaching teacher trainer courses at a Japanese university.

As a nonnative speaker of English, I can understand what aspects of English might be difficult for you and what areas might be useful for you to study. We have chosen the topics carefully and made the courses as easy to understand and as enjoyable as possible.

I hope you enjoy the course and have fun with us!