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An article (with the linguistic glossing abbreviation ) is a that is used with a (as a standalone word or a or ) to specify grammatical of the noun, and in some languages extending to volume or numerical scope.

The articles in are the and a/an, and in certain contexts some. "An" and "a" are modern forms of the Old English "an", which in was the number "one" (compare "on" in ) and survived into as the number "owan". Both "on" (respelled "one" by the ) and "an" survived into , with "one" used as the number and "an" ("a", before nouns that begin with a sound) as an indefinite article.

In many languages, articles are a special part of speech which with other parts of speech. In English grammar, articles are frequently considered part of a broader category called , which contains articles, (such as "this" and "that"), possessive determiners (such as "my" and "his"), and quantifiers (such as "all" and "few"). Articles and other determiners are also sometimes counted as a type of , since they describe the words that they precede.

In languages that employ articles, every , with some exceptions, is expressed with a certain , definite or indefinite, as an attribute (similar to the way many languages express every noun with a certain grammatical number—singular or plural—or a grammatical gender). Articles are among the most common words in many languages; in English, for example, the most frequent word is the.

Articles are usually categorized as either definite or indefinite. A few languages with well-developed systems of articles may distinguish additional subtypes. Within each type, languages may have various forms of each article, due to conforming to grammatical attributes such as gender, number, or . Articles may also be modified as influenced by adjacent sounds or words as in (e.g., "le" becoming "l'" before a vowel), (e.g., "a" becoming "an" before a vowel), or contraction (e.g. "i + na" becoming "sna").

Definite article
The definite article is used to refer to a particular member of a group or class. It may be something that the speaker has already mentioned or it may be something uniquely specified. There is one definite article in English, for both singular and plural nouns: the:
The children know the fastest way home.
The sentence above refers to specific children and a specific way home; it contrasts with the much more general observation that:
Children know the fastest ways home.
The latter sentence refers to children in general and their specific ways home. Likewise,
Give me the book.
refers to a specific book whose identity is known or obvious to the listener; it has a markedly different meaning from
Give me a book.
which uses an indefinite article, which does not specify what book is to be given.

The definite article can also be used in English to indicate a specific class among other classes:

The cabbage white butterfly lays its eggs on members of the Brassica genus.
However, recent developments show that definite articles are morphological elements linked to certain noun types due to /ref>Diaz Collazos, Ana Maria. 2016. Definite and indefinite articles in Nikkei Spanish. In González-Rivera, Melvin, & Sessarego, Sandro. New Perspectives on Hispanic Contact Linguistics in the Americas. Madrid/Frankfurt: Iberoamericana-Vervuert

Indefinite article
An indefinite article indicates that its noun is not a particular one identifiable to the listener. It may be something that the speaker is mentioning for the first time, or the speaker may be making a general statement about any such thing. a/an are the indefinite articles used in English. The form an is used before words that begin with a vowel sound (even if spelled with an initial consonant, as in an hour), and a before words that begin with a consonant sound (even if spelled with a vowel, as in a European).

She had a house so large that an elephant would get lost without a map.

Before some words beginning with a pronounced (not silent) h in an unstressed first syllable, such as historic(al), hallucination, hilarious, horrendous, and horrific, some (especially older) British writers prefer to use an over a ( an historical event, etc.).New Oxford Dictionary of English, 1999, usage note for an: "There is still some divergence of opinion over the form of the indefinite article to use preceding certain words beginning with h- when the first syllable is unstressed: ‘ a historical document’ or ‘ an historical document’; ‘ a hotel’ or ‘ an hotel’. The form depends on whether the initial h is sounded or not: an was common in the 18th and 19th centuries, because the initial h was commonly not pronounced for these words. In standard modern English the norm is for the h to be pronounced in words like hotel and historical, and therefore the indefinite article a is used; however, the older form, with the silent h and the indefinite article an, is still encountered, especially among older speakers." An is also preferred before hotel by some writers of British English (probably reflecting the relatively recent adoption of the word from French, in which the h is not pronounced). and Lancaster-Oslo-Bergen Corpus, quoted in Peters (2004: 1) The use of "an" before words beginning with an unstressed "h" is more common generally in British English than in American. American writers normally use a in all these cases, although there are occasional uses of an historic(al) in American English.Algeo, p. 49. According to the New Oxford Dictionary of English, such use is increasingly rare in British English too. Unlike British English, American English typically uses an before herb, since the h in this word is silent for most Americans. The correct usage in respect of the term "hereditary peer" Https://< /ref>

The word some can be viewed as functionally a plural of a/an in that, for example, "an apple" never means more than one apple but "give me some apples" indicates more than one is desired but without specifying a quantity. In this view it is functionally homologous to the Spanish plural indefinite article unos/unas; un/una ("one") is completely indistinguishable from the unit number, except where it has a plural form ( unos/unas). Thus Dame una manzana" ("Give me an apple") but "Dame unas manzanas" ("Give me some apples"). The indefiniteness of some or unos can sometimes be narrowed, as in "There are some apples there, but not many."

Some also serves as a singular indefinite article, as in "There is some person on the porch".

Proper article
A proper article indicates that its , and refers to a unique entity. It may be the name of a person, the name of a place, the name of a planet, etc. The has the proper article a, which is used for personal nouns; so, "a Pita" means "Peter". In Maori, when the personal nouns have the definite or indefinite article as an important part of it, both articles are present; for example, the phrase "a Te Rauparaha", which contains both the proper article a and the definite article Te refers to the person name .

The definite article is sometimes also used with , which are already specified by definition (there is just one of them). For example: the Amazon, the Hebrides. In these cases, the definite article may be considered superfluous. Its presence can be accounted for by the assumption that they are shorthand for a longer phrase in which the name is a specifier, i.e. the Amazon River, the Hebridean Islands. Where the nouns in such longer phrases cannot be omitted, the definite article is universally kept: the United States, the People's Republic of China. This distinction can sometimes become a political matter: the former usage the Ukraine stressed the word's Russian meaning of "borderlands"; as became a fully independent state following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it requested that formal mentions of its name omit the article. Similar shifts in usage have occurred in the names of and both Congo (Brazzaville) and Congo (Kinshasa); a move in the other direction occurred with . In certain languages, such as French and Italian, definite articles are used with all or most names of countries: la France/le Canada/l'Allemagne, l'Italia/la Spagna/il Brasile.

Some languages also use definite articles with . For example, such use is standard in Portuguese ( a Maria, literally: "the Maria"), in (η Μαρία, ο Γιώργος, ο Δούναβης, η Παρασκευή) and in (la Núria, el/en Oriol). It also occurs colloquially or dialectally in , , , and other languages. In it is considered to be a Germanism.

Rarely, this usage can appear in English. A prominent example is how President of The United States and businessman is known as "The Donald", this wording being used by many publications such as and New York Post. Another is US President 's nickname of "The Gipper" Https://< /ref> publisher issued an article after Reagan's death titled simply "Goodbye to 'the Gipper'".

Partitive article
A partitive article is a type of article, sometimes viewed as a type of indefinite article, used with a such as water, to indicate a non-specific quantity of it. Partitive articles are a class of ; they are used in and in addition to definite and indefinite articles. (In and Estonian, the partitive is indicated by inflection.) The nearest equivalent in English is some, although the latter is classified as a but not in all authorities' classifications as an indefinite article, and English uses it less than French uses de.
French: Veux-tu du café ?
Do you want ( some) coffee?

For more information, see the article on the French partitive article.

has a partitive article (suffixed -gyaa) referring to "part of something or... to one or more objects of a given group or category," e.g., tluugyaa uu hal tlaahlaang "he is making a boat (a member of the category of boats)."

Negative article
A negative article specifies none of its noun, and can thus be regarded as neither definite nor indefinite. On the other hand, some consider such a word to be a simple determiner rather than an article. In English, this function is fulfilled by no, which can appear before a singular or plural noun:
No man has been on this island.
No dogs are allowed here.
No one is in the room.

Zero article
The zero article is the absence of an article. In languages having a definite article, the lack of an article specifically indicates that the noun is indefinite. Linguists interested in causally link zero articles to nouns lacking a determiner. In English, the zero article rather than the indefinite is used with plurals and , although the word "some" can be used as an indefinite plural article.

Visitors end up walking in mud.

Variation among languages
Articles are found in many Indo-European languages, Semitic languages (only the definite article), and Polynesian languages, but are formally absent from many of the world's major languages, such as , Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, , , , the majority of and (incl. ), , and the . In some languages that do have articles, like for example some North Caucasian languages, the use of articles is optional but in others like English and German it is mandatory in all cases.

Linguists believe the common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, Proto-Indo-European, did not have articles. Most of the languages in this family do not have definite or indefinite articles: there is no article in or , nor in some modern Indo-European languages, such as the families of (except for Bulgarian and Macedonian, which are rather distinctive among the Slavic languages in their grammar) and . Although had a definite article (which has survived into and which bears strong functional resemblance to the German definite article, which it is related to), the earlier used this article largely as a pronoun or demonstrative, whereas the earliest known form of Greek known as did not have any articles. Articles developed independently in several language families.

Not all languages have both definite and indefinite articles, and some languages have different types of definite and indefinite articles to distinguish finer shades of meaning: for example, and have a partitive article used for indefinite , whereas Colognian has two distinct sets of definite articles indicating focus and uniqueness, and Macedonian uses definite articles in a demonstrative sense, with a tripartite distinction (proximal, medial, distal) based on distance from the speaker or interlocutor. The words this and that (and their plurals, these and those) can be understood in English as, ultimately, forms of the definite article the (whose declension in Old English included thaes, an ancestral form of this/that and these/those).

In many languages, the form of the article may vary according to the gender, number, or of its noun. In some languages the article may be the only indication of the case. Many languages do not use articles at all, and may use other ways of indicating old versus new information, such as topic–comment constructions.

+ Variations of articles in definiteness and inflection among major languages ! ! Definite ! Indefinite ! Gendered ! Numbered ! Case-inflected ! Notes

+ The articles used in some languages
a- -k
die 'n
Albanian-a, -ja, -i, -u, -t, -të (all suffixes)disanjë
or el rtl=yes (prefix) -n
Assamese-tû, -ta, -ti, -khôn, -khini, -zôn, -zôni, -dal, -zûpa etc. êta, êkhôn, êzôn, êzôni, êdal, êzûpa etc.
-টা, -টি, -গুলো, -রা একটি
an, al, ar un, ul, ur
Bulgarian-та, -то, -ът, -ят,
един/ някакъв,
една/ някаква,
едно/ някакво,
едни/ някакви
el, la, l', els, les
ses, lo, los, es, sa
un, una
uns, unes
Singular: -en, -n -et, -t (all suffixes) Plural: -ene, -ne (all suffixes) en, et
de, het ('t) een ('n)
the a, an
(colloquial)*se yks(i)
le, la, l'
du, de la, de l'
un, une
der, die, das
des, dem, den
ein, eine, einer, eines
einem, einen
ο, η, το
οι, οι, τα
ένας, μια, ένα
Hawaiianka, ke
Hungariana, az egy
Icelandic-(i)nn, -(i)n, -(i)ð, -(i)na, -num, -(i)nni, -nu, -(i)ns, -(i)nnar, -nir, -nar, -(u)num, -nna (all suffixes)
le un
an, na
il, lo, la, l'
i, gli, le
del, dello, della, dell'
dei, degli, degl' , delle
un', uno, una, un
u, ka, i
hendê, birrê-êk
Luxembourgishden, déi (d'), dat (d')
dem, der
däers/es, däer/eren, eng
engem, enger
Macedonian-от -ов -он -та -ва -на -то -во -но
-те -ве -не -та -ва -на (all suffixes)
неколкуеден една едно
y, yn, 'n, ny
(i)l-, (i)ċ-, (i)d-, (i)n-, (i)r-, (i)s-, (i)t-, (i)x-, (i)z-, (i)ż- (all prefixes)
Norwegian (Bokmål)Singular: -en, -et, -a (all suffixes) Plural: -ene, -a (all suffixes) en, et, ei
Norwegian ()Singular: -en, -et, -a (all suffixes) Plural: -ane, -ene, -a (all suffixes) ein, eit, ei
Papiamentoe un
yek (1)
Portugueseo, a
os, as
um, uma
uns, umas
i, in, 'n
Romanian-(u)l, -le, -(u)a
-(u)lui, -i, -lor (all suffixes)
un, o
unui, unei
niște, unor
an, am, a', na, nam, nan
i, in, -in, -n, en
el, la, lo,
los, las
un, una
unos, unas
Singular: -en, -n, -et, -t (all suffixes) Plural: -na, -a, -en (all suffixes) en, ett
y, yr, -'r
דער (der), די (di), דאָס (dos), דעם (dem) אַ (a), אַן (an)

* Grammatically speaking has no articles, but the words se (it) and yks(i) (one) are used in the same fashion as the and a/an in English and are, for all intents and purposes, treated like articles when used in this manner in colloquial Finnish.

The following examples show articles which are always suffixed to the noun:

  • Albanian: zog, a bird; zog u, the bird
  • : שלם (shalam), peace; שלמ א (shalma), the peace
    • Note: Aramaic is written from right to left, so an is added to the end of the word. ם becomes מ when it is not the final letter.
  • Assamese: "কিতাপ (kitap)", book; "কিতাপ খন (kitapkhôn)" : "The book"
  • : "Bôi", book; "Bôi ti/Bôi ta/Bôi khana" : "The Book"
  • Bulgarian: стол stol, chair; стол ът stolǎt, the chair (subject); стола stol a, the chair (object)
  • Icelandic: hestur, horse; hestur inn, the horse
  • Macedonian: стол stol, chair; стол от stolot, the chair; стол ов stolov, this chair; стол он stolon, that chair
  • : sib, apple. (The Persian language does not have definite articles. It has one indefinite article 'yek' that means one. In Persian if a noun is not indefinite, it is a definite noun. "Sib e' man، means my apple. Here 'e' is like 'of' in English; an so literally "Sib e man" means the apple of mine.)
  • Romanian: drum, road; drumu l, the road (the article is just "l", "u" is a "connection " vocală de legătură)
  • and Norwegian: hus, house; hus et , the house; if there is an adjective: det gamle (N)/gamla (S) hus et, the old house
  • : hus, house; hus et , the house; if there is an adjective: det gamle hus, the old house

Examples of prefixed definite articles:

  • , transcribed as yeled, a boy; , transcribed as , the boy
  • ktieb, a book; rtl=yes, the book; għotja, a donation; rtl=yes, the donation; ċavetta, a key; rtl=yes, the key; dar, a house; rtl=yes, the house; nemla, an ant; rtl=yes, the ant; ras, a head; rtl=yes, the head; sodda, a bed; rtl=yes, the bed; tuffieħa, an apple; rtl=yes, the apple; xahar, a month; rtl=yes, the month; zunnarija, a carrot; rtl=yes, the carrot; żmien, a time; rtl=yes, the time

A different way, limited to the definite article, is used by and Lithuanian. The noun does not change but the adjective can be defined or undefined. In Latvian: galds, a table / the table; balt s galds, a white table; balt ais galds, the white table. In Lithuanian: stalas, a table / the table; balt as stalas, a white table; baltas is stalas, the white table.

Languages in the above table written in italics are constructed languages and are not natural, that is to say that they have been purposefully invented by an individual (or group of individuals) with some purpose in mind. They do, however, all belong to language families themselves. is derived from European languages and therefore all of its roots are found in Proto-Indo-European and cognates can be found in real-world languages like French, German, Italian and English. is also based on European languages but with its main source being that of Italic descendent languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, with German and Russian being secondary sources, with words from further afield (but internationally known and often borrowed) contributing to the language's vocabulary (such as words taken from Japanese, Arabic and Finnish). The result is a supposedly easy-to-learn language for the world. As well as these "auxiliary" languages the list contains two more: and ; these two languages were created by Professor Tolkien and used in his fictional works. They are not based on any real-world language family (as are Esperanto and Interlingua), but do share a common history with roots in .

When using a definite article in Tokelauan language, unlike in some languages like English, if the speaker is speaking of an item, they need not to have referred to it previously as long as the item is specific. This is also true when it comes to the reference of a specific person. So, although the definite article used to describe a noun in the Tokelauan language is te, it can also translate to the indefinite article in languages that requires the item being spoken of to have been referenced prior. When translating to English, te could translate to the English definite article the, or it could also translate to the English indefinite article a. An example of how the definite article te can be used as an interchangeable definite or indefinite article in the Tokelauan language would be the sentence “ Kua hau te tino”. In the English language, this could be translated as “ A man has arrived” or “ The man has arrived” where using te as the article in this sentence can represent any man or a particular man. The word he, which is the indefinite article in Tokelauan, is used to describe ‘any such item’. The word he is used in negative statements because that is where it is most often found, alongside its great use in interrogative statements. Though this is something to make note of, he is not used in just in negative statements and questions alone. Although these two types of statements are where he occurs the most, it is also used in other statements as well. An example of the use of he as an indefinite article is “ Vili ake oi k'aumai he toki ”, where ‘ he toki ’ mean ‘ an axe’. The use of he and te in Tokelauan are reserved for when describing a singular noun. However, when describing a plural noun, different articles are used. For plural definite nouns, rather than te, the article is used.Vili ake oi k'aumai nā nofoa’ in Tokelauan would translate to “ Do run and bring me the chairs” in English. There are some special cases in which instead of using , plural definite nouns have no article before them. The absence of an article is represented by 0. One way that it is usually used is if a large amount or a specific class of things are being described. Occasionally, such as if one was describing an entire class of things in a nonspecific fashion, the singular definite noun te would is used. In English, ‘ Ko te povi e kai mutia’ means “ Cows eat grass”. Because this is a general statement about cows, te is used instead of . The ko serves as a preposition to the “ te” The article ni is used for describing a plural indefinite noun. ‘ E i ei ni tuhi?’ translates to “ Are there any books?

Articles have developed independently in many different language families across the globe. Generally, articles develop over time usually by specialization of certain or , and their development is often a sign of languages becoming more analytic instead of synthetic, perhaps combined with the loss of as in English, Romance languages, Bulgarian, Macedonian and Torlakian.

in Universals of Human Language describes "the cycle of the definite article": Definite articles (Stage I) evolve from demonstratives, and in turn can become generic articles (Stage II) that may be used in both definite and indefinite contexts, and later merely noun markers (Stage III) that are part of nouns other than proper names and more recent borrowings. Eventually articles may evolve anew from demonstratives.

Definite articles
Definite articles typically arise from meaning that. For example, the definite articles in most Romance languages—e.g., el, il, le, la, lo — derive from the demonstratives ille (masculine), illa (feminine) and illud (neuter).

The definite article , written þe in , derives from an Old English demonstrative, which, according to gender, was written se (masculine), seo (feminine) ( þe and þeo in the Northumbrian dialect), or þæt (neuter). The neuter form þæt also gave rise to the modern demonstrative that. The ye occasionally seen in pseudo-archaic usage such as " Englishe Tea Shoppe" is actually a form of þe, where the letter thorn ( þ) came to be written as a y.

Multiple demonstratives can give rise to multiple definite articles. Macedonian, for example, in which the articles are suffixed, has столот ( stolot), the chair; столов ( stolov), this chair; and столон ( stolon), that chair. These derive from the demonstratives "this, that", "this here" and "that over there, yonder" respectively. Colognian prepositions articles such as in dat Auto, or et Auto, the car; the first being specifically selected, focused, newly introduced, while the latter is not selected, unfocused, already known, general, or generic.

Standard distinguishes between proximal and distal definite articles in the plural (dialectally, a proximal singular and an additional medial grade may also be present). The Basque distal form (with infix -a-, etymologically a suffixed and phonetically reduced form of the distal demonstrative har-/hai-) functions as the default definite article, whereas the proximal form (with infix -o-, derived from the proximal demonstrative hau-/hon-) is marked and indicates some kind of (spatial or otherwise) close relationship between the speaker and the referent (e.g., it may imply that the speaker is included in the referent): etxeak ("the houses") vs. etxeok ("these houses of"), euskaldunak ("the Basque speakers") vs. euskaldunok ("we, the Basque speakers").

Speakers of Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, a modern Aramaic language that lacks a definite article, may at times use demonstratives aha and aya (feminine) or awa (masculine) – which translate to "this" and "", respectively – to give the sense of "the".Solomon, Zomaya S. (1997). Functional and other exotic sentences in Assyrian Aramaic, Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, XI/2:44-69.

Indefinite articles
Indefinite articles typically arise from adjectives meaning one. For example, the indefinite articles in the Romance languages—e.g., un, una, une—derive from the adjective unus. Partitive articles, however, derive from de illo, meaning (some) of the.

The indefinite article is derived from the same root as one. The -n came to be dropped before consonants, giving rise to the shortened form a. The existence of both forms has led to many cases of , for example transforming the original a napron into the modern an apron.

The indefinite article is yek, meaning one.

See also

External links

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