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English as a Second Language/Indefinite or definite article?


Dear Brian,

I prepared the topic below (for my student) but was certainly unsure whether to use "a" or "the" in the phrase "on a/the personal level", then I decided to use "a" after checking the Longman dictionary. But still, I ask myself: "Is on the personal level" correct or not?"

No doubt technological changes have affected many areas of life in recent years. This report will focus on some changes that have had the greatest impact on people.|First of all, on a personal lever, changes include telephones, music, television, cars, shopping, money, banking, etc., whereas, on a public level, they include travel and transport systems, crime detection, industry, power generation, etc. Online booking is an example of these technological changes. The cheapest and quickest way of buying train or airline tickets is now to book online. In conclusion, new technology has enabled people to save time, money, and effort

By the way, can I use "finally" instead of "conclusion"?

Please help me out.
Thank you in advance.

Best regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

Hi Antoine!

Sorry for my extremely late response.

The correct answer is "a", since whose/which personal level is not established (it is indefinite).

"Finally" and "In conclusion" are not synonymous.  "Finally" indicates there is some kind of ordered list of things, whereas "in conclusion" indicates a particular part of the body of an essay, which is generally a summary rather than a point in a list.

I hope that makes sense!  Take care.

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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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