Being Kind to the Much-Maligned Article

Lately, I’ve seen a trend in which people are leaving out–a, an, the–the articles–in sentences.

Could this be in the interest of shortening sentences?

Or, perhaps after trying to squeeze thoughts into 140 characters, it is too easy to just leave the article out in “regular” writing?

Leaving out “a,” “an,” or “the” before a noun ruins the flow of a sentence.   Imagine “ruins flow of sentence” in the previous thought.  It seems like a student taking notes, but not a complete thought.

In comparison to many other languages, English actually makes the use of articles easy. (Truly!  Although in many other instances, English is rampant with exceptions and difficult rules.)

English doesn’t, unlike Romance languages, require differentiating “male” and “female” words to apply the correct article.  No “der,” “die,” “el,” “la” and other articles.

All correct English requires is that people decide whether the word to modify has a consonant sound or a vowel sound to start to choose between the indefinite articles “a” and “an.”

If the word to modify has a consonant to start, choose “a.” Example: A piece

When the word starts with a vowel sound, choose “an.”  Example: An apple

The only tricky example would be the word “hour.”  With hour, the “h” is silent, so the article to be used would be “an.”

When a definite, specific article is needed – the – works for everything!

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things…” (courtesy of Lewis Carroll.)

So, next time you talk or write, be kind to your articles.

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