The Many Reasons for the Word ‘The’ – VOA Learning English (Oct 12, 2017)

EG_12OCT17

The 1995 film Dead Man has a strange opening scene.

Actor Johnny Depp is sitting on a train. A man sits down across from Depp’s character, and speaks to him:

“Look out the window. And doesn’t this remind you of when you were in the boat, and then later that night, you were lying, looking up at the ceiling, and the water in your head was not dissimilar from the landscape…”

Today we will explore the word ‘the.’

Yes, the word ‘the.’ You heard it many times in the audio from the movie.

English speakers use this word for several reasons – some of which we will discuss in this program.

Today, we will show you how Americans use ‘the’ in everyday speech, writing, and even in the arts, such as literature or movies.

But first, we need to give you a few definitions.

What are articles?

Articles are words that go before nouns. They tell if the noun is general or specific.

When an article is specific, it is called a definite article. The word ‘the’ is a definite article.

English speakers use ‘the’ when both the speaker and the listener know what is being referred to. They can have this shared understanding for any number of reasons.

Sometimes the noun is already known, for example. Sometimes the speakers are referring to nouns that are unique. At other times, the situation makes it clear what the noun refers to.

#1 Thing being referred to is known from the context

One of the main reasons Americans use the word ‘the’ when they are speaking is because the noun being referred to is clearly understood. The noun could be something seen or heard in an area around the speakers, or it could be a part of their daily lives.

Let’s listen to an example. You can hear the speakers use ‘the’ in an everyday situation – at the dinner table.

1: The pasta turned out great!

2: Thank you!

1: Would you mind passing me the butter?

2: Sure thing!

1: Oh, I just remembered I forgot to let the dog outside! I’ll be right back.

In the example, you heard the speakers use the word ‘the’ three times: ‘the pasta;’ ‘the butter;’ and ‘the dog.’

The reason the speakers used ‘the’ is because the nouns they were referring to were clear in the context – in this case, the dinner table. The speakers all understood that they were eating pasta, and that there was butter nearby.

The meaning of ‘the dog’ is clear to them because the animal is a part of their daily lives. Even if it is not in the room at the time, both speakers know what ‘the dog’ is referring to.

#2 Modifiers of the noun specify the thing being referred to

One of the common reasons you will see the word ‘the’ in writing is because modifiers of the noun specify what is being referred to. The modifiers of the noun change it from a general noun to a specific noun.

Although more common in writing, you can hear examples in films. Let’s listen to this example from the 1955 film Seven Year Itch.

“The island of Manhattan derives its name from its earliest inhabitants – the Manhattan Indians.”

In the film, the speaker said ‘the island of Manhattan’ because the modifier, the words “of Manhattan”, gives information about the noun ‘island.’ The word ‘island’ could be a general or specific noun, but when it is modified it becomes a specific noun – the island of Manhattan.

In the example you heard, the modifier came after the noun. However, sometimes the modifier can come before the noun.

For example, you might see a story about buildings in the United States. The story might say, “Chicago has the tallest building in America.”

Here, ‘tallest’ modifies the noun ‘building.’ This is a specific noun because only one building can be the tallest.

#3 Presenting something as familiar

The last reason speakers and writers use the word ‘the’ is for stylistic purposes. This is most common in fiction writing and movies.

By using the article ‘the’, the writer or speaker is able to make the reader or listener more interested in the story. People are likely to show an interest because the writer or speaker is presenting information as if it is understood – even if it is not!

Let’s listen again to the opening lines from Dead Man.

“Look out the window. And doesn’t this remind you of when you were in the boat, and then later that night, you were lying, looking up at the ceiling, and the water in your head was not dissimilar from the landscape…”

In the film, the strange man uses specific language – the boat, the ceiling, and so on. This language is not understood by those of us watching. Viewers start asking themselves questions like ‘Which boat is the man talking about?’ And, ‘Which ceiling?’

In other words, the viewer or listener is more curious about the story because they do not know what the man is talking about.

This is a common technique you will see often in films and books, such as thrillers and mystery stories.

What can you do?

The next time you are watching films or talking with an English speaker, try to listen for examples of the word ‘the’. Ask yourself why the speaker is using ‘the’ instead of a different article – such as ‘a’ or ‘an’.

The process of recognizing and understanding articles can be a difficult one. However, with time and effort, you will use them with no trouble. And we will be here to help!

I’m Alice Bryant.

And I’m John Russell.

John Russell wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. _____________________________________________________________

Words in the Story

scene – n. a part of a play, movie, story, etc., in which a particular action or activity occurs

refer – v. to have a direct connection or relationship to (something)    often + to

modifier – n. grammar : a word (such as an adjective or adverb) or phrase that describes another word or group of words

derive – v. to take or get (something) from (something else)

stylistic – adj. of or relating to an artistic way of doing things

fiction – n. something invented by the intention; written stories that are not real

thriller – n. a very exciting book or movie

This article was originally published on the www.learningenglish.voanews.com  and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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We Say – You Say – BBC Learning English (Oct 13 2017)

We Say – You Say – BBC Learning English (Oct 13 2017)

Source: BBC-Learning English

Terms Of UseThis post is reproduced under licence from www.bbc.co.uk/.  You are not allowed to modify, edit, reproduce, republish the contents of this post for any personal/commercial use and any form of reproduction of the contents of this post is strictly prohibited. You can access to view & listen to the contents (of this post) provided you comply with the Terms of Use of BBC Online Services.
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6 Minute English (Why pay for bottled water?) – BBC Learning English (Oct 12 2017)

6 Minute English (Why pay for bottled water?) – BBC Learning English (Oct 12 2017)

Source: BBC-Learning English

Terms Of UseThis post is reproduced under licence from www.bbc.co.uk/.  You are not allowed to modify, edit, reproduce, republish the contents of this post for any personal/commercial use and any form of reproduction of the contents of this post is strictly prohibited. You can access to view & listen to the contents (of this post) provided you comply with the Terms of Use of BBC Online Services.
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Lingohack (Tackling the sea of plastic) – BBC Learning English (Oct 11 2017)

Lingohack (Tackling the sea of plastic) – BBC Learning English (Oct 11 2017)

Source: BBC-Learning English

Terms Of UseThis post is reproduced under licence from www.bbc.co.uk/.  You are not allowed to modify, edit, reproduce, republish the contents of this post for any personal/commercial use and any form of reproduction of the contents of this post is strictly prohibited. You can access to view & listen to the contents (of this post) provided you comply with the Terms of Use of BBC Online Services.
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The Grammar Gameshow – BBC Learning English (Oct 11 2017)

The Grammar Gameshow – BBC Learning English (Oct 11 2017)

Source: BBC-Learning English

Terms Of UseThis post is reproduced under licence from www.bbc.co.uk/.  You are not allowed to modify, edit, reproduce, republish the contents of this post for any personal/commercial use and any form of reproduction of the contents of this post is strictly prohibited. You can access to view & listen to the contents (of this post) provided you comply with the Terms of Use of BBC Online Services.
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News Review (Racial inequality in the UK) – BBC Learning English (Oct 10 2017)

News Review (Racial inequality in the UK) – BBC Learning English (Oct 10 2017)

Source: BBC-Learning English

Terms Of UseThis post is reproduced under licence from www.bbc.co.uk/.  You are not allowed to modify, edit, reproduce, republish the contents of this post for any personal/commercial use and any form of reproduction of the contents of this post is strictly prohibited. You can access to view & listen to the contents (of this post) provided you comply with the Terms of Use of BBC Online Services.
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The English We Speak (Lolz) – BBC Learning English (Oct 09 2017)

The English We Speak (Lolz) – BBC Learning English (Oct 09 2017)

Source: BBC-Learning English

Terms Of UseThis post is reproduced under licence from www.bbc.co.uk/.  You are not allowed to modify, edit, reproduce, republish the contents of this post for any personal/commercial use and any form of reproduction of the contents of this post is strictly prohibited. You can access to view & listen to the contents (of this post) provided you comply with the Terms of Use of BBC Online Services.
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Keen contest ahead – The Hindu (Oct 14, 2017)

Keen contest ahead – The Hindu (Oct 14, 2017)

It is not clear why the Election Commission announced the date for Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh — a single-phase vote on November 9 — but…. For further reading, visit “The Hindu”.

This preview is provided here with permission.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Word List-2 (To Improve English Vocabulary)

  1. fade away (phrasal verb) – decrease, decline, diminish.
  2. polarize (verb) – to divide into two different contrasting  groups/beliefs, etc,.
  3. kick in (phrasal verb) – come into effect.
  4. poise (verb) – ready, prepare, position/brace oneself.
  5. dissident (noun) – dissenter, objector, protester.
  6. head start (noun) – an advantage received after starting ahead of others (in a race/competition).
  7. stave off (verb) – avert, prevent, avoid (something dangerous or from serious situations).
  8. hold out (phrasal verb) – keep going/on, survive, persevere.
  9. revival (noun) – improvement, betterment; restoration.
  10. lingering (adjective) – persisting, lasting, remaining.
  11. teething issues (adjective) – teething troubles/problems; temporary problems facing while starting a new project.
  12. cast a shadow on (phrase) – spoil, diminish, let down.
  13. cash in (on) (phrasal verb) – take advantage, exploit, capitalize on.
  14. disgruntlement (noun) – disaffection, dissatisfaction, dis-contention/unhappiness.
  15. patronage (noun) – help/aid, assistance, support.
  16. foster (verb) – encourage, promote, strengthen.
  17. plague (verb) – afflict, torment, trouble.
  18. incumbent (noun) – a person who is in office and holds power; functionary, official.
  19. misgivings (noun) – qualm, doubt, reservation.
  20. pointer (noun) – indication, hint, sign.

EDITORIAL WORDS TO IMPROVE ENGLISH VOCABULARY 14OCT17_2Note:  

  1. Click each one of the words above for their definition, more synonyms, pronunciation, example sentences, phrases, derivatives, origin and etc from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/.
  2. Definitions (elementary level) & Synonyms provided for the words above are my personal work and not that of Oxford University Press. Tentative definitions/meanings are provided for study purpose only and they may vary in different context. Use it with the corresponding article published on the source (website) via the link provided. 
  3. This word list is for personal use only. Reproduction in any format and/or Commercial use of it is/are strictly prohibited.
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Benefit of doubt – The Hindu (Oct 14, 2017)

Benefit of doubt – The Hindu (Oct 14, 2017)

The Allahabad High Court verdict acquitting Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar of the charge of murdering their 14-year-old daughter…. For further reading, visit “The Hindu”.

This preview is provided here with permission.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Word List-1 (To Improve English Vocabulary)

  1. acquit (verb) – discharge, release, declare innocent.
  2. indictment (noun) – charge, accusation, allegation/citation.
  3. shoddy (adjective) – poor-quality/inferior, careless, improper.
  4. probity (noun) – integrity, honesty/decency, truthfulness.
  5. “planted” witness (noun) – “inserted” witness; the categorization of a witness where the witness gets some benefit from the litigation.
  6. clinching (adjective) – decisive/conclusive, final, key.
  7. see-saw (adjective) – a condition/situation which is changing rapidly & repeatedly.
  8. dress up (phrasal verb) – present, portray, depict.
  9. lie (verb) – be, remain, or be kept in a state.
  10. in tatters (phrase) –  destroyed; ruined; in disorder.
  11. illustrative (adjective) – explanatory, as an example, elucidatory.
  12. gulf (noun) –  separation, difference, contrast/gap.
  13. perception (noun) – understanding, realization/awareness.
  14. lamentably (adverb) – badly, terribly, awfully.
  15. exemplify (verb) – typify, epitomise, demonstrate/symbolise.
  16. speculative (adjective) – theoretical, hypothetical, based on guesswork.
  17. frenzy (noun) – hysteria, madness, mania/wild behaviour.
  18. (be) torn (verb) – torment, torture, harrow/afflict.
  19. fast asleep (noun) – in a state sleep.
  20. credulity (noun) – naivety, innocence, simpleness.
  21. cogent (adjective) – valid, effective; logical/clear.
  22. suspicion (noun) – doubt, trace/hint, scepticism.
  23. botch (up) (verb) – mismanage, mishandle, do (a task) badly or carelessly.
  24. implicate (verb) –  indicate, imply/hint, indicate.
  25. typographical error (adjective) – typo, misprint;  it is a mistake made in the typing process (such as a spelling mistake) of printed material.
  26. pursue (verb) –  continue to investigate, scrutinize, analyse (an idea or argument).
  27. appellate (adjective) – (of a court) dealing with cases on appeal to review the decision of a lower court.
  28. of sorts (phrase) –  similar to/in a way, somewhat unusual.
  29. bring home (phrase) – focus attention to; underline, highlight.
  30. exonerate (verb) – release, discharge, relieve/free.
  31. vindicate (verb) – justify, confirm, support.
  32. nail (verb) – catch/capture, apprehend, arrest (someone, especially a suspected criminal)
  33. hold (someone) to account (phrase) – to require a person to explain or to accept responsibility for his or her actions; to blame or punish someone for what has occurred.

EDITORIAL WORDS TO IMPROVE ENGLISH VOCABULARY 14OCT17_1Note:  

  1. Click each one of the words above for their definition, more synonyms, pronunciation, example sentences, phrases, derivatives, origin and etc from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/.
  2. Definitions (elementary level) & Synonyms provided for the words above are my personal work and not that of Oxford University Press. Tentative definitions/meanings are provided for study purpose only and they may vary in different context. Use it with the corresponding article published on the source (website) via the link provided. 
  3. This word list is for personal use only. Reproduction in any format and/or Commercial use of it is/are strictly prohibited.
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Talk it over – The Hindu (Oct 13, 2017)

Talk it over – The Hindu (Oct 13, 2017)

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s call for a dialogue with the federal government is the first sign in many months of an attempt to break the…. For further reading, visit “The Hindu”.

This preview is provided here with permission.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Word List-2 (To Improve English Vocabulary)

  1. pull back (phrasal verb) – withdraw, retreat, draw/roll back.
  2. confrontation (noun) – conflict, clash, fight.
  3. stalemate (noun) – deadlock, impasse, stand-off.
  4. steadfast (adjective) – firm, determined, resolute/steady.
  5. sovereignty (noun) – authority, supremacy/domination; autonomy.
  6. seize (verb) – take, grab, grasp.
  7. opening (noun) – opportunity, chance, favourable moment.
  8. referendum (noun) – public vote; a direct vote in which people cast ballots to decide on a specific issue or policy (Courtesy: VOA Learning English).
  9. defer (verb) – postpone, put off, delay.
  10. proclamation (noun) – announcement, declaration, pronouncement.
  11. interpretations (noun) – explanation, clarification, review.
  12. relent (verb) – yield, accede, give in.
  13. ascertain (verb) – confirm, verify, discover/find out.
  14. obduracy (noun) – stubbornness, dogged determination, relentlessness.
  15. secession (noun) – the withdrawal of a group from a larger federation/organisation, from a political state.
  16. vindicate (verb) – justify, confirm, support.
  17. grim (adjective) – dismal, gloomy/serious, uninviting.
  18. untenable (adjective) – undefendable, unarguable, unjustified.
  19. interlocutor (noun) – a person who takes part in a dialogue or conversation.
  20. ramifications (noun) – consequence, result, repurcussions.
  21. rhetoric (noun) – (persuasive) speaking; oratory, command of language.
  22. precipitate (verb) – expedite, advance, accelerate (generally an undesirable event/situation).
  23. speculation (noun) – prediction, conjecture/talk, guuesswork.
  24. interventionist (noun) – a person who favours  interventionism (the policy of intervening in the affairs of others).
  25. relapse (verb) – setback, worsening, weakening.
  26. overture (noun) – move, approach, signal/proposal.

EDITORIAL WORDS TO IMPROVE ENGLISH VOCABULARY 13OCT17_2Note:  

  1. Click each one of the words above for their definition, more synonyms, pronunciation, example sentences, phrases, derivatives, origin and etc from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/.
  2. Definitions (elementary level) & Synonyms provided for the words above are my personal work and not that of Oxford University Press. Tentative definitions/meanings are provided for study purpose only and they may vary in different context. Use it with the corresponding article published on the source (website) via the link provided. 
  3. This word list is for personal use only. Reproduction in any format and/or Commercial use of it is/are strictly prohibited.
Posted in Editorials (The Hindu), The Hindu | Tagged , | Leave a comment