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A / An / The – An introduction (For students, with notes for teachers)

Teacher’s note: This is for an hour-long class – TTT. It’s for Pre-Int, but could be adapted for higher levels / used as a revision tool for higher levels.

What do you think the text below the picture is going to be about?

A man with a knife

The text below has some words (A, AN, THE) missing. Can you put them in?

I was on my way to restaurant with my friends a few months ago when we saw man wearing black jumper. Man came over to us and asked us for money. He was really big and only girl in our group was bit scared so I told him to go away. He got really angry and took knife out of his pocket. Knife was gold and looked really new. We were all surprised so we ran in to forest behind restaurant and I climbed apple tree. I stayed in tree until morning! All other guys were looking for me all night! People said I was crazy after that for a long time.

(Teacher’s note: This text could be spaced out and students have to insert cut-up the / a in to the correct spaces in pairs.)

Have a look at the correct text:

I was on my way to restaurant with my friends a few months ago when we saw man wearing black jumper. The man came over to us and asked us for money. He was really big and the only girl in our group was a bit scared so I told him to go away. He got really angry and took knife out of his pocket. The knife was gold and looked really new. We were all surprised so we ran in to the forest behind the restaurant and I climbed an apple tree. I stayed in the tree until morning! All the other guys were looking for me all night! People said I was crazy after that for a long time.

Did you get these all correct? Let’s look at a few rules:

(Teacher’s note: Cut up the rules and give them to students. Students move around the class and compare the information. Once they have shared the rules, they are presented with a paper copy of them all and language negotiation stage starts)

1) We use “a” to talk about one noun.

  • When it is not one specific thing
  • When it is the first time we talk about the thing

I saw a man wearing a black jumper.

How many men did I see? Do I know the man?

Would you like a cup of tea?

Is it a specific cup of tea? No, because I haven’t made it yet!

2) We use the when we know the thing or things we are talking about.

The man came over to us…

I already talked about this man, so we now know which one I’m talking about.

Let’s go to the park next to your house.

Do I know which park? Yes, so we use THE.

Let’s go to a park together.

Do I know which park? No, so we use A until we have decided which park to go to.

3) We put A and THE before nouns, or before the adjectives describing the nouns.

A jumper.

A black jumper.

4) THE can be singular or plural.

The only girl in the group OR all the other guys (if we know which ‘guys’ we are talking about).

5) If we are talking about groups in general, we don’t use A or THE.

______People said I was crazy after that for a long time.

Which people? People in general, not a specific group, so we use NOTHING.

The people in my class think I’m crazy.

Do I know which people? Yes, so we use THE.

6) We use AN for the same things as A, but the word after starts with A, E, I, O and U (when the sound is U like in UP, not U like in UNIVERSITY)

I climbed an apple tree.

Now let’s try again. Can you use the rules above to help you complete this text?

Teacher’s Note: As with ex. 1 .

Tom and Jerry

I went to cinema next to bank in my village yesterday. I saw amazing film. Film was about cat that falls in love with dog. Dog doesn’t know and starts chasing cat. It’s comedy and I really liked it because it reminded me of Tom and Jerry. People in cinema were laughing lots, but I know people have said that it isn’t very good film. I don’t care; I thought it was best film this year!

Now let’s take a look  at the answer:

I went to the cinema next to the bank in my village yesterday. I saw an amazing film. The film was about a cat that falls in love with a dog. The dog doesn’t know and starts chasing the cat. It’s a comedy and I really liked it because it reminded me of Tom and Jerry. The people in cinema were laughing lots, but I know people have said that it isn’t a very good film. I don’t care; I thought it was the best film this year!

How did you do?

Simon

One thought on “A / An / The – An introduction (For students, with notes for teachers)

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