The Article. Stylistic functions of English articles

The noun in English and Ukrainian possesses the semantic category of definiteness and indefiniteness. In other words, when a noun is taken out of its context to which it belonged, its meaning may not be definitely understood, i.e. identified.

The category of definiteness and indefiniteness may be identified in English and Ukrainian both at language level (when the noun is out of the specific context) and at speech level, i.e. in oral presentation or in a written micro context. The main means of making the noun definite in English is to use the definite, indefinite or zero articles as well as any other determining or identifying adjuncts. These categories may also be indicated in both languages by syntactic and lexico-syntactic means: indefinite pronouns, indefinite numerals, etc.


There is some boy wants to see you (King)- .

Was there a Mr. Palgrave? ͳ ?

.- There was a man who had two sons.

.- The door opened and the teacher entered the classroom.

. The door opened and a teacher entered the classroom.

There is little identity in stylistic function of English and Ukrainian means of expressing the category of definiteness/indefiniteness. One of the most powerful ways of rendering different stylistic meanings and/or to modify the stylistic connotations of a noun is the usage of articles in the English language.

Functioning as a noun determiner the English article depends on the noun it belongs to. But at the same time definite or indefinite article is able to modify the semantic and stylistic function of the noun it determines.

Traditionally proper names cannot be used with articles. But the indefinite article used with a proper noun imparts some evaluative meaning to it:


I do not claim to be a Caruso.

I will never marry a Melon or Sykes and no one else will ever marry me (Sh. Bronte).


The definite article used with a proper noun secures the intensification of some permanent or temporary qualities of the person described:


You are not the Andrew Manson I married (A. Cronin).

Miss Lemon, the efficient Miss Lemon has let him down (A. Christie).

One of the most frequent and favoued by some authors way to achieve different stylistic effects is the transposition of articles the usage of the article in the context, which is not characteristic for it. In most cases this transposition is aimed at the violation of traditional correlation between the new and already known information. Newly named objects and phenomena commonly used with indefinite article are purposely introduced by definite article in order to make the narration vivid and images more expressive, in order to enliven the description of events and make the reader feel involved in them. E. Hemingway is the master of this device.


At the lake shore there was another rowboat drawn up. The two Indians stood waiting E. Hemingway, the beginning of the story Indian camp).

The violation of normative usage of articles secures the specific rhythmical arrangement of the text and enriches its semantic structure:


It began to rain slowly and heavily and drenchingly and her thought went down the lane towards the field the hedge, the trees oak, beech, elm (Gr. Green).

The absence of article before a countable noun in singular creates an ultimate stage of generalization. Thus the image is devoid of any concrete meaning:


There head falls forward, fatigued of evening and dreams of home.

And vice versa the definite article plays an important role in the mechanism of metaphoric creation:


I will oetake thee, Cleopatra,

And weep for my pardon, so it must be for now

All length is torture: since the torch is out (W. Shakespeare. Anthony and Cleopatra).

The definite article in the metaphor the torch indicates the multilateral connections of the image with the previous context and recalls various additional semantic layers in it.


  1. Communicative functions.
  2. Data Buses and ALU Register/Register Functions
  3. English modal verbs having not always modal verb equivalents in Ukrainian.
  5. Exercise 1. Translate the following sentences paying attention to Participle Constructions in different syntactic functions.
  7. Interrelation of Etymological and Stylistic Characteristics of Words.
  8. LECTURE 1. Contrastive Stylistic as a Linguistic Discipline
  9. LECTURE3.2. Text stylistics as branch of functional stylistics. Subject, tasks.
  10. Linguistic status of American English.
  11. Middle English Phonetic System
  12. National Character of Stylistic Systems

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Stylistic potential of the category of gender. | The Adjective. Degrees of comparison of adjectives as stylistic device

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