The grammatical term for a/an and the is articles: a/an is the indefinite article; the is the definite article. Not using articles correctly is a basic error that will give a bad impression of your work. It is essential to use an article when it is required and it is just as essential not to use an article when it is wrong to do so. Read this paragraph from an essay on media and look at when articles are used and not used. The birth of what is now commonly called celebrity culture can be traced to the 1980s. Before then, a famous person could assume that he or she could maintain some privacy out of the glare of the media and without attracting the attention of the public. There were gossip columns in newspapers and of course scandals were common, but life was different for celebrities until the 1980s. During that decade there was a huge change in attitudes towards famous people and this coincided with the arrival of new magazines such as Hello. The celebrities they covered were paid large sums to give readers an insight into their private lives and the stories and interviews in the magazines took an uncritical view of their subjects. The change in attitudes started here. Use ‘a/an’ … to talk about one of many, but not a particular one: a famous person → any famous person when you are using a singular noun for the first time, not referring to someone or something already mentioned: a huge change → the word ‘change’ is introduced here.
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