Posted by Editor: FDBobko
May 11, 2023
Peter Master
The English Article System
Article by Susan Kealey

Irwin introduced our speaker, Peter Master, who will cure Irwin of his accent. Peter is Professor Emeritus of Applied Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics and Language Development at San Jose State University. He is the author of “Systems in English Grammar:  An Introduction for Language Teachers.”     

The focus of today’s talk is the A and The articles. English learners have trouble with late acquisitions to English—articles, prepositions and third person singular—s. They are considered late because we can be understood without them. 

Articles belong to the determiner system, a noun phrase. The book, a book or a zero article—coffee (noun) is good for you. An article has Countability—I can count them. For example I can count a book. I cannot count air or make it plural. 

The binary system for teaching articles—a category, use a. If it is something you are supposed to know, use the. Which would be the green one. The is the most frequently used word in the English language. Peter found that zero article is the most frequent after a study. First mention and subsequent mention is a way to determine the article—a man walked in, subsequently, the man walked in again. When teaching English, this mention (first mention, subsequent) as a way to give your student a win. 

We move on to ranking adjectives—descriptive adjectives. 

He shared some exercises—all the answers are the same to get students to get used to the sound of several “a” sentences, then several “the” sentences. Superlative sentences are ranking sentences and must use the. Unique adjectives—two of the same, you and I are holding the same pen, not a same. 

Every other European language had an academy to make and enforce rules to keep it organized. English, on the other hand, grew organically. It takes more words in other languages because they are limited. “He asked why did I do that”. The correct sentence would be  “Why he did that.”

Despite triggering PTSD from Mrs. Kastner’s fourth grade sentence diagramming, I did learn some useful ways to help ESL students sort out the mysteries of English. And, I now know why English is so confusing. 

CLUB MEETING,  May 11, 2023 
Kevin started meeting with the Pledge. 

John gave us an update on our new exchange student, Suzanne, from France. Interact will have  co-presidents next year in and will have a exchange student liaison position, Larkin’s idea. More to come. 


Marla, Larkin and Irwin’s wife, Nancy Wolfsburg.          

Paul announced that there is a new Rotary trust to combat Alzheimer’s. Paul suggested everyone read the article in this month’s Rotarian.

From Community Service: Director Susan:   Relay is coming up in July. Thanks to Rose and Renee, we are doing exceptionally well with fundraising.  Home Rehab Day is June 3, sign up now—email with instructions has been sent. 

Ginger—Wine and Jazz Fest is this weekend. 

Joe shared a Murder Mystery flyer. 

Warren mentioned the Rotary Day of Service this weekend. There will be a picnic, car show, service activities—see the emails. 

Happy/Crappy News yescrying
Warren shared some highlights from the joint meeting with Pacifica. Mitone gave a and talk  about Shelter Box and the new shelter kits. 
Marble Game -  coolsadwink Joe, pulled a green one.