English as a Second Language/English Articles


I have some clarifications to seek regarding the use of the article in English. Here they are:
1. Why does the quote go 'the child is father of the man' ( not 'the father' going by the logic of subsequent specification as suggested by 'of')?
2. 'The use of the article in the English language is complex'--is this sentence right?
3. In writing a letter is it right to specify the official position of a person with 'the' as in 'the manager', 'the general manager', 'the director', etc.?
4. we say 'the young people', 'the Roman empire', and so on because 'young' and 'Roman' in these examples are supposed to play the specifying function. If this right, why do we then say 'old age' and 'life at sea' and drop 'the' in these and other such cases?
5. As the president of my club if I issue a notice should it be addressed to 'Members of Club' or 'the members of the Club'? In other words, can 'the' be dropped in a familiar situation as perhaps a headmaster will do when he writes 'no student will be allowed to enter School after lunch'?
I wait for your response.

1. I don't know, I'm not aware of that quote.  It sounds grammatically incorrect to me.

2. Yes.  You could also say "The use of articles in the English language is complex."  There are slight differences, which I covered in a previous question.

3. It depends on the context, but sure, it could be correct.

4. You don't always say "the young people" because young is an adjective, not a proper noun modifier, so it doesn't necessarily identify a specific noun.  It depends on the context.  Similarly, "life" in "life at sea" doesn't refer to a specific life per se, but rather a type of life (one which happens at sea) and is therefore general, not specific.  As for "old age", age can mean different things.  In this case, "old age" is referring to a person's or people's age (as in how many years they have lived), which means that it is usually identified by a possessive determiner, like "my" or "his" or "one's".  Another definition of age is "period of time", which is not a person or people, and thus would require either an article or a proper noun modifier to specify which age.

5. Technically I believe you can use either one.  However, it is pretty unusual to use "member" as a title, so typically we would use the article "the" when referring to members.

Hope that helps!

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Brian Connelly


I can answer pretty much any question a student might have about English; about grammar, vocabulary, meanings of words, phrases, expressions or idioms, pronunciation, etc. I can answer questions about how to learn or study English better, how to improve certain aspects of communication (listening, writing, speaking, etc), about why we have certain rules.


I've been teaching English in Japan, mainly as a private (one-to-one) teacher, but also at companies such as Universal Studios or international airports. I have taught professional interpreters and translators and I have also taught students who dropped out of high school and never learned any English. Several years ago I acquired the CELTA and I have been running my own classroom for the past year.

None in particular, but I work with a number of companies who regularly introduce me to new students and occasionally to other companies that are looking for English teachers.


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I currently have approximately 40 individual students with whom I work one on one. I have also worked with local manufacturing companies, colleges, local retailers, as well as Sharp, Universal Studios, Itami International Airport, Kobe International Airport

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