1. You can use the noun without any determiner at all.

• in the singular, if it is a proper noun

Boston is on the east coast.

• in the singular, if it is an uncountable noun

I can hear music.

• in the plural, if it is a countable noun

Tigers have black stripes.

When you use a plural countable noun without the article, you are seeing the noun in a general way – ‘tigers in general’.

2. You can use the noun with either of the ‘articles’, a or the:

• use a with singular, countable nouns

I can see a car.

• use the with singular countable nouns

I can see the car.

• use the with plural countable nouns

I can see the cars.

• use the with uncountable nouns

I can see the water.

The articles are the most common determiners in English. Their main job is to say whether the noun is ‘definite’ or ‘indefinite’.

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