My question is a bit hard to explain, but I'll try to do it properly.

It's known that articles can be a mess for the people whose native language doesn't have a concept of articles.

I know all grammar rules for them but still having constant troubles with them. As you can see from the text the troubles I'm referring to are not usual cases, otherwise you would notice a lack English ability by this far already.

When I write or speak I don't think about grammar at all, yet it goes pretty well. A certain kind of feeling just pops up. I call it "to ask the heart". Sounds ridiculous, but somehow it works for most cases.

When I start to think about what I actually do when I'm asking my heart it gets crazy.

At first I thought that articles just fill the space between words, which actually make sense, because if you omit all articles completely some phrases become very hard to pronounce.

Then I was trying to explain it to myself like some kind of memorizing of short sentences, for instance: I have a (in 90% of cases it will be a after have), Let's go for a and etc. Or if a noun at the start of a sentence it will be with the definite article in most cases.

Then I came up with different explanation: articles are being used to empower or diminish a value of word within a sentence.

I'm pretty sure that next 3 sentences are grammatically correct:

  • I have a reason for that. (Nothing serious)
  • I have reason for that. (You'd better do what I want)
  • I have the reason for that. (Shit just got real. Run.)

You can also apply the idea for meals and parts of a day:

  • Let's meet at night. (No article, because "meet" is the point)
  • The night is beautiful today. Let's go for a walk. (Not sure if it's completely proper grammar, but i would expect something like this from a native speaker.)
  • They are the creatures of the night (And again we empower the word night and put a focus on it).

So, I wonder if there's any unconventional theories on how we naturally use articles? There's got to be a simple explanation for articles, because otherwise we couldn't use them subconsciously. Or do you really think that your subconscious process all the grammar rules in background, or even worse getting all the cases from memory?

Native speakers make almost no mistakes with articles. There's got to be a key to this. I comprehend all other concepts which I don't have in my native language, like the words though and yet (in Russian those words are used the other way around), or putting s at the end of verbs. I don't believe that articles are hard only because English is not my native language.

Also do kids make mistakes with articles? If yes, at which age do they disappear?

closed as too broad by Eddie Kal, Jason Bassford, Nathan Tuggy, Hellion, Andrew Dec 11 '18 at 6:03

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I sympathize with you. I was trying to come up with some good examples that might illustrate underlying rules to use "a" vs. "the" vs. "no article", but I had to give it up as it's just too complicated. I think Tashus' answer is about as good as your going to get. In any case, of course kids make mistakes with articles, and like children from any country, these disappear at different ages depending on the child. Children learn through repetition when they're told to say "Please may I have a cookie" instead of "Give me cookie!" – Andrew Dec 6 '18 at 21:47

I think you have your cause and effect backwards with respect to empowering or diminishing nouns through the use of articles. I will summarize the rules and then explain what I mean.

Indefinite articles are used when referring to a single non-specific instance of a noun. The definite article is used when referring to a specific noun. No article is used when referring to a non-specific plural or uncountable nouns.

Native speakers do not make the choice of which article to use based on the intended "value" of a word. Instead, they choose based on the context of the word (i.e. is it non-specific, plural, etc.), and the "value" of the word is also a function of that context.

You are correct in your example that "I know the reason for that" has a stronger impact than "I know a reason for that", but the speaker did not choose the definite article in order to provide that stronger impact. The speaker would only say "the reason" when there is only a single reason, and the fact that there is a single reason that explains the situation is what has the strong impact.

Also note that "I have reason for that" is not grammatical.

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