Articles - Definite, Indefinite, Partitive
The definite article 'the' (invariable in form) designates a person, place, or event which has been specified or defined by the speaker:
Here's the book I bought.
The cat is on the roof.
He said he would bring the money.
Omission of the definite article
The definite article does not always precede nouns: sometimes indefinite articles or partitive articles will be used. However, sometimes no article at all is necessary, for example in the following cases:
1. As a general rule, the definite article is omitted before abstract nouns or nouns representing general categories. It is often omitted after verbs expressing opinions or preferences:
Poverty is the world's biggest problem today.
I don't like animals.
Cats are nicer than dogs.
She likes coffee, but she hates tea.
2. Generally, the article is omitted before days of the week and dates:
On Tuesdays the museums are closed.
On Saturdays I always have a lay-in.
Friday night we are going dancing.
I was born on may 19th, 1960.
3. Generally, the article is omitted before names of countries, states, cities, and regions:
France is seventeen times smaller than the United States.
California is larger than Lombardia.
Exceptions: Some names actually include the definite article, such as 'The Hague'.
4. Generally, the article is omitted before titles or nouns indicating professions:
President Mitterrand completed two terms. (not 'The President..')
However, when we do not add a name, we say 'The President completed...'
We saw Professor Miller at the restaurant.
She met with Doctor Schmidt.
The use of the definite article does not change in interrogatives and negatives.
The indefinite article has two forms: before singular nouns we use 'a' (or 'an' before most vowels); before plural nouns we use 'some':
However: Before vowels producing a 'y' sound (as in 'you'), 'a' is used, rather than 'an':
not a one
As a general rule, the indefinite article signals a person, thing or event that has not been clearly defined by the speaker. It is often used after verbs of possession or consumption:
I'll have a coffee, please.
I have a book you might like.
She has some paintings for sale.
In questions and negatives, the plural indefinite article 'some' is generally replaced by 'any':
Don't you have any clean clothes?
They don't have any books for sale.
I have never had an accident.
Partitive article - Some
When the article 'some' appears before a plural noun it functions like an indefinite article:
He has some tickets for the game.
Some students decided not to attend the class.
However, when 'some' appears before a singular noun, it is being used as a partitive. This means that a part of something is indicated, or a partial (or indeterminate) quantity is referred to. It is often used after verbs of possession or consumption:
Do you have some free time this afternoon?
We're going to buy some milk.
I heard some bad news.
She has some money to spend.
Would you like some help ?
Note: After expressions of quantity, the partitive article is not used:
Students buy a lot of sweets.
Today people have more activities than before.
In negative expressions, the partitive article 'some' generally becomes 'any' (this change will also occur in negative interrogatives):
She doesn't have any money.
They didn't have any milk.
Don't you have any money?