Article (grammar)

related topics
{language, word, form}
{work, book, publish}
{law, state, case}
{son, year, death}
{specie, animal, plant}
{school, student, university}
{city, large, area}
{@card@, make, design}
{woman, child, man}
{town, population, incorporate}

An article (abbreviated art) is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. Articles specify the grammatical definiteness of the noun, in some languages extending to volume or numerical scope. The articles in the English language are the and a/an. 'An' and 'a' are modern forms of the Old English 'an', which in Anglian dialects was the number 'one' (compare 'on', in Saxon dialects) and survived into Modern Scots as the number 'ane'. Both 'on' (respelled 'one' by the Normans) and 'an' survived into Modern English, with 'one' used as the number and 'an' ('a', before nouns that begin with a consonant sound) as an indefinite article.

The word some is thus used as a functional plural of a/an. "An apple" never means more than one apple. "Give me some apples" indicates more than one is desired but without specifying a quantity. This finds comparison in Spanish, where the indefinite article is completely indistinguishable from the single number, except that 'uno/una' ("one") has a plural form ('unos/unas'): Dame una manzana" ("Give me an apple") > "Dame unas manzanas" ("Give me some apples").

Among the classical parts of speech, articles are considered a special category of adjectives. Some modern linguists prefer to classify them within a separate part of speech, determiners.

In languages that employ articles, every common noun, with some exceptions, is expressed with a certain definiteness (e.g., definite or indefinite), just as many languages express every noun with a certain grammatical number (e.g., singular or plural). Every noun must be accompanied by the article, if any, corresponding to its definiteness, and the lack of an article (considered a zero article) itself specifies a certain definiteness. This is in contrast to other adjectives and determiners, which are typically optional. This obligatory nature of articles makes them among the most common words in many languages—in English, for example, the most frequent word is the.[1]

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