By Galina Vitkova
The more you know about articles, the better. On that account, I would like to emphasise once more their importance for technical writing as well.
Let´s remind that:
The indefinite article a (an) can be used only with singular countable nouns. A (an) signals that the noun refers to any member of a noun group.
Following this rule we must not say or write a software, a hardware, a money (a piece of software is possible if necessary), whereas the software or only software etc. is correct.
Students often use a (an) with plurals, e.g. a robots, a modern technologies, a laser printers. It is nonsense, a (an) suggests one. It means robots or the robots, modern technologies or the modern technologies is correct.
It is possible to use the with numerals when exceptionality of a situation should be underlined or just in case. For example, we say or write sometimes the two disks in this situation, but two disks is usual.
The definite article the(e.g. the transistor, the electromagnetic wave, the digital pen etc.) is frequently used to indicate that a noun refers to the whole class of which member the noun is, e.g.The milestone of the modern age of computers was the development of the transistor.
Finally, be aware of necessity the in case of unique objects:
A robot has the back and the front (i.e. any robot has the only one front and the only one back).
The surface of a sphere (again any sphere has the only one surface).
PS: If you have any questions concerning use of a (an), the, put your comments to this post or send message mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
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