Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 15 May 2011





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Special rules for use of articles

When we refer to days, months and seasons, the definite article (the) is usually dropped.

I didn't see you last Sunday.

David was playing trumpet.

She will be away from the country in December.

Can I meet you on Monday?

The next semester begins in September.

Where will you be in April ?

When we refer to seasons in general, 'the' is optional.

We enjoy going out in the spring/spring.

Do you like the winter/winter?

However, 'the' is necessary if we are referring to a particular season.

I had to work hard in the summer last year.

When we refer to musical instruments in general, we use 'the'.

She is learning how to play the violin.

Amara loves to play the piano.

The tabla is my favourite musical instrument.

However, 'the' is often dropped when we refer to jazz or pop musical instruments.

David was playing trumpet.

Kelly can play saxophone.

We use 'the' with some forms of entertainment.

I always listen to the radio in the morning.

We wanted to buy some tickets but the cinema was packed to capacity.

Very few Sri Lankans go to the theatre on a regular basis.

Exception: I watched a Tamil film on television.

'The' is also dropped when we talk about art forms, professions and institutions.

I prefer cinema to theatre.

Mahes has worked in radio all her life.

We do not use 'the' in titles.

He sells eggs by the dozen.

Queen Soraya had talks with King Abdullah.

President Obama is still popular in the United States.

We use 'a' or 'an' with singular countable nouns in exclamations after 'What'.

What a lovely sari!

What a nice car!

We do not use 'a' or 'an' in exclamations with uncountable nouns.

What nonsense!

What luck!

We use no articles with names of illnesses and pains.

My uncle had appendicitis.

I have toothache.

Maya is suffering from hepatitis.

'A' or 'an' is used in certain illnesses.

You have a cold.

I have a headache.

American usaage is somewhat different.

Bob has a toothache.

Lily has an earache.

Father has a backache.

I have a stomache.

When we talk about parts of the body, we do not use 'the.' Instead we use possessives.

Nalin broke his arm.

He carried the baby on his shoulder.

We use 'the' in measuring expressions.

He sells eggs by the dozen.

The shop sells sugar by the kilo.

We use 'the' with place names.

Sri Lanka is surrounded by the Indian ocean.

The Himalayas is a mountain range in India.

The Maldives is a group of islands.

The Mahaweli is the longest river in Sri Lanka.

We use 'the' with newspapers and magazines.

Do you read the Sunday Observer?

I regularly read the Reader's Digest.

In order to be a good writer or speaker, you have to know a large number of words. Try to guess the meaning of the following words and check your answers with the key. This is an effective way of increasing your vocabulary.

1. Have you come across people with bovine temperaments?

(a) stupid

(b) intelligent

(c) trustworthy

2. The zebra belongs to the equine family.

(a) elephant

(b) horse

(c) cat

3. An unpleasant hircine odour emanated from the hunter's clothing.

(a) of a monkey

(b) of a tiger

(c) of a goat

4. Emitting a huge leonine sigh, he shuffled back to his seat.

(a) of a lion

(b) of a deer

(c) of a dog

5. The flood victims ate their first meal with lupine voracity.

(a) catlike

(b) wolflike

(c) doglike

6. Some workers who agreed to the new terms were accused of ovine behaviour.

(a) oxlike

(b) lionlike

(c) sheeplike

7. Being a good swimmer she felt a piscine comfort in her water.

(a) of a fish

(b) of a crocodile

(c) of a snake

8. An ugly porcine old man sat by the river greedily eating a mango.

(a) like a fish

(b) piglike

(c) like a dog

9. Sherlock Holmes possessed certain vulpine qualities.

(a) compassionate

(b) brilliant

(c) cunning

10. The violent earthquake decimated the city's population.

(a) destroyed

(b) increased

(c) decreased



1 (a), 2. (b), 3. (c), 4. (a), 5. (b), 6. (c), 7. (a), 8. (b), 9. (c), 10. (a).


Subject - verb agreement

Negative statements

We form the negative by adding 'does not' (doesn't) or 'do not' (don't) before the verb. For a singular subject, we add 'doesn't' and change the verb to its base form.

Positive: My sister likes music.

You are my friend.

Negative: My sister doesn't like music.

Positive: Ranji has many books.

Negative: Ranji doesn't have many books.

For a plural subject, and the singular pronoun 'I' and 'you', we add 'don't.'

Positive: My friends sing well.

Negative: My friends don't sing well.

Positive: You speak fluently.

Negative: You don't speak fluently.

Positive: I have a small car.

Negative: I don't have a small car.

We form the negative of 'be' verbs by changing them to 'isn't' or 'aren't.'

Positive: Bala is here.

Negative: Bala isn't here.

Positive: They are driving.

Negative: They aren't driving.

For the singular pronoun 'you', we change the verb to 'aren't.'

Positive: You are my friend.

Negative: You aren't my friend.

For the singular pronoun 'I' we form the negative in the following way:

Positive: I am satisfied with my salary.

Negative: I am not satisfied with my salary.

Positive: I am a lawyer.

Negative: I am not a lawyer.

Note: 'Am not' cannot be contracted.


Turn the following sentences to the negative form. Check your answers with the key.

1. Fathima owns a house.

2. She exercises in the evening.

3. Mrs. Perera is at home.

4. Bandu is an architect.

5. My dog has a bushy tail.

6. Our neighbours like us.

7. Aruna has a racing car.

8. My cat eats fish.

9. Amanda is a popular actor.

10. We are in the classroom.


1. Fathima doesn't own a house.

2. She doesn't exercise in the evening.

3. Mrs. Perera isn't at home.

4. Bandu isn't an architect.

5. My dog doesn't have a bushy tail.

6. Our neighbours don't like us.

7. Aruna doesn't have a racing car.

8. My cat doesn't eat fish.

9. Amanda isn't a popular actor.

10. We aren't in the classroom.


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