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The decision tree

Definite and indefinite articles: The decision tree

Whenever we use a noun in a sentence, we have to think about what we already know and do not know about that noun from previous sentences within the text or from the context.

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The first decision you have to make is whether the word you are looking at is a noun. If it is a noun, the second decision is whether this particular noun needs an article. Once you have decided that it probably needs an article, then, there are some rules you can apply to help you decide what that article might be. The rules will also help you to decide whether or not to include an article, even though you have a noun.

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Therefore, the main rule for deciding whether to use a definite article or an indefinite article is if the noun is a specific thing, person or event, or one of many persons, things or events.

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