The Definite Article with Class Nouns in English and in French

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1. General Overview of the Category of Article in English and French 1.1 Article. General notion An article is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun and to specify the volume or numerical scope of that reference. Article can be also thought of as a special kind of adjective, because it combines with a noun and contributes to the meaning of the noun-phrase. Many linguists place the article in the category of determiners. M. Ia. Blokh in his book “Theoretical Grammar of the English Language” says “The article is a determining unit of specific nature accompanying the noun in communicative collocation.” The linguists L. A. Barmina and I. P. Verkhovskaya have the same idea about the article as a determiner. They attribute

it to a syntactic class of words called determiners which modify a noun. The dictionary of Thesaurus gives the definition of the word “article” as a determiner that may indicate the specificity of reference of a noun phrase. Webster’s New World College Dictionary refers to the article as used as adjectives. Also in this context we would like to add the words of the linguist B. Ilyish who devoted a whole chapter of his book “Stroi sovremennogo angliyskogo eazika” to the study of the article. He remarks that the article is usually a separate unit which may be divided from its noun by other words, chiefly adjectives. So, we may conclude that the first feature of the article can be that the article is a determiner of the noun that refers to, that is why it can have some

functions of an adjective and it is used as a separate unit. Another feature of the article is that articles, definite or indefinite, are traditionally considered to form a separate part of speech. V. L. Kaushanskaya in her book “The Grammar of the English Language” specifies the article as a structural part of speech. In E. M. Gordon’s book “A Grammar of Present-Day English” we also meet the notion of a structural word as the linguist gives the following definition of the article: “The article is a structural word specifying the noun”. According to these two definitions we can define the second feature of the article – it is a structural word. Judging upon the definitions given by the different linguists and the dictionaries listed above we can draw a conclusion

and deduce a general definition for the article that would include all its features: An article is a structural part of speech, which is combined with a noun to determine it. 1.2 Articles in English There are two articles in Modern English which are called the indefinite and the definite article. The absence of the article, which may be called the zero article, also specifies the noun and has significance. The indefinite article has the forms a and an. The form a is used before words beginning with a consonant sound (a book, a table, a door). The form an is used before words beginning with a vowel sound (an apple, an hour, an aim). The article is pronounced [ə], [ən]; when stressed it is pronounced [eı], [æn]. 1.2.1 The Definite Article in English The definite article has one

graphic form the, which is pronounced in two ways: [∂ı:] before a vowel sound [∂ı: ΄æpl] and [∂ə] before a consonant sound [∂ə ΄pen]. This article is used before nouns in the plural, as well as before nouns in the singular number. 1.2.2 The History of the Definite Article in English Examining the definite article by M.A. Gashina’s book “English Grammar Higher School” we find some words about its history. The linguist says that the definite article the is a weakened form of the Old English demonstrative pronoun se (nominative se; dative ΄þæm; accusative ΄þone, etc.) which in Old English, besides the function of a demonstrative, had also the function of the definite article. The form “se” was in the masculine gender, “seo”- feminine, and