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IELTS Preparation Series 1, Episode 13: Under the sea

September 3, 2016

 

(Bấm vào đây để xem/nghe bài kế tiếp)

 

Xem lời thoại bên dưới:

 

0:00

Hello. Welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation. I'm Margot Politis.

0:19

We're going to look at articles today - indefinite articles 'a' and 'an', and the definite article,

0:27

'the'.

0:29

But first, let's meet an oceanographer. She's talking about using underwater devices to

0:35

predict weather patterns.

0:37

See if you can hear her using articles while she talks about monsoons.

0:42

The monsoon gets a lot of its energy from the equatorial and sub-tropical Indian Oceans.

0:47

Dr Susan Wijffels, an oceanographer from Australia's CSIRO, is hoping that by measuring the state

0:53

of the Indian Ocean in those areas, scientists will be able to learn something about monsoon

0:57

predictability.

0:59

Predicting the monsoon is a very difficult thing and yet it impacts on millions and millions

1:04

of people, and so we think that, if we can predict the monsoon usefully, we can make

1:09

a real difference.

1:10

We know from El Nino that it's a fully global system, so you just can't study one small

1:16

part of the ocean and solve these problems. You really need a global integrated observing

1:20

system, and the Argo program is the first real big ocean attempt to do that, and it's

1:27

the float technology that's allowed us to even think about doing this.

1:30

Using articles before nouns is one of the most difficult things in learning English.

1:36

You can choose between indefinite articles 'a' and 'an', the definite article 'the',

1:43

or no article at all.

1:46

Let's start with the indefinite articles 'a' and 'an'.

1:51

The rule is that 'a' is used before words starting with a consonant, and 'an' is used

1:58

before words starting with a vowel.

2:01

So we have a banana, but an apple.

2:07

There are a couple of exceptions to the rule. Where the consonant 'h' is not pronounced,

2:12

we use 'an'.

2:14

So we say a happy man, but an honest man. The 'h' is not pronounced, so honest sounds

2:23

like it starts with a vowel.

2:26

Where the vowel 'u' is pronounced like a 'y' sound, we use 'a'.

2:30

So we say an umbrella, but a user, because user sounds like it begins with a 'y'.

2:40

'A' and 'an' are only used with singular nouns. We use 'some' with plural nouns.

2:48

The indefinite articles 'a' or 'an' are used to refer to indefinite things, things that

2:55

aren't specific. You use them when you're referring to any member of a group of things.

3:01

The indefinite article does not refer to a particular thing, but one out of many possible

3:07

things.

3:08

If I say I would like a banana, I just want any banana, it doesn't matter which one.

3:16

Let's look at an example of indefinite articles from the clip.

3:19

Predicting the monsoon is a very difficult thing and yet it impacts on millions and millions

3:24

of people, and so we think that, if we can predict the monsoon usefully, we can make

3:28

a real difference.

3:30

She uses the indefinite article twice.

3:34

She says 'predicting the monsoon is a very difficult thing'. There are many things that

3:41

are difficult to do, and predicting the monsoon is just one of them.

3:47

Secondly she says 'we can make a real difference'. There are many differences that can be made

3:53

in the world, but she is just talking about one of them.

3:56

So when do we use the definite article 'the'?

4:06

Well, we use it when we're referring to definite, specific things. We also use 'the' when we're

4:13

talking about one particular member of a group.

4:17

Luckily there is only one form of the word 'the', and it can refer to both singular and

4:24

plural nouns.

4:25

We say the banana and the bananas.

4:29

There is a difference in pronunciation though, when 'the' comes before a vowel sound, we

4:36

say 'thee', the apples.

4:38

So 'thee' before vowel sounds, and 'thuh' before consonant sounds.

4:45

Let's look at the clip again. Listen for 'the'.

4:49

You really need a global integrated observing system, and the Argo program is the first

4:55

real big ocean attempt to do that, and it's the float technology that's allowed us to

5:00

even think about doing this.

5:02

She says 'the Argo program'. She uses 'the' because there is only one Argo program. It's

5:10

a unique, particular thing.

5:12

She also says 'the float technology'. She is talking about a particular type of float

5:19

technology, not just any float technology.

5:24

There was a third 'the'. She said 'the first real big ocean attempt'.

5:30

We use 'the' in front of first, second and so on, because they refer to something particular

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or unique.

5:37

There can be only one first attempt.

5:41

In the same way we use 'the' in front of superlatives - the best example, the biggest banana and

5:49

so on - because there can only be one best, or biggest, of anything.

5:54

OK. So that's the major difference between definite and indefinite articles, but there

6:01

are other rules as well.

6:03

We use 'a' and 'an' with countable nouns, that is, if the noun can be counted.

6:10

I ate an apple. Apples can be counted.

6:15

We use 'the' with uncountable nouns, with things that you can't count.

6:21

I swam in the water. (Water cannot be counted.)

6:25

I drank the milk. (Milk cannot be counted.)

6:30

We also use 'a' with counting expressions like a bottle of, a cup of, a bit of.

6:37

Listen to this:

6:40

The monsoon gets a lot of its energy from the equatorial and sub-tropical Indian Ocean.

6:45

She says, "The monsoon gets a lot of its energy".

6:50

Look at the monsoon, and the Indian Ocean.

6:54

These are both examples of other rules for 'the'.

6:58

We can use 'the' to describe 'generic nouns'.

7:02

A generic noun is a noun that describes a category or type of thing. It can often be

7:09

the same as using a plural noun.

7:12

So sometimes the monsoon means the same as monsoons. She's talking about monsoons in

7:19

general.

7:20

Predicting the monsoon is a very difficult thing and yet it impacts on millions and millions

7:26

of people, and so we think that, if we can predict the monsoon usefully, we can make

7:31

a real difference.

7:32

We know from El Nino that it's a fully global system, so you just can't study one small

7:37

part of the ocean and solve these problems. You really need a global integrated observing

7:40

system, and the Argo program is the first real big ocean attempt to do that, and it's

7:40

the float technology that's allowed us to even think about doing this.

7:40

And here's another rule. We also use 'the' with oceans, seas, rivers and deserts.

7:47

We say the Indian Ocean, the Yangtze River, the Gobi Desert.

7:54

We also use 'the' for points on the globe - the Equator,

7:59

the Tropic of Capricorn, the North Pole.

8:03

Choosing the right article can be very confusing, but if you follow the general rule that you

8:09

use 'the', the definite article, to refer to a particular thing or things, and 'a' and

8:16

'an', indefinite articles, to refer to one of a number of things, you shouldn't go too

8:22

wrong.

8:22

OK, so now we've seen how to use definite and indefinite articles, but sometimes we

8:33

don't use articles at all before nouns.

8:36

Let's look at when to use no article.

8:39

We've already seen that you can leave the article out when talking about plural generic

8:44

nouns.

8:46

Monsoons are unpredictable.

8:48

But this is true for uncountable generic nouns too.

8:53

Coffee is delicious.

8:55

Happiness is hard to find.

8:58

"Balls are round."

8:59

OK, so let's look at some sentences.

9:04

I would like a cake. (I would like one cake, any cake.)

9:09

I would like the cake. (I would like that particular cake.)

9:15

I like cakes. (I like all cakes.)

9:19

Here, cakes with no article is generic. It refers to cakes in general, all cakes.

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Well that's all for today. Don't forget to practice those articles!

9:31

I'll see you next time for Study English. Bye Bye.

 

 

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