I have been learning English intensively for 8 years and have been living and speaking in the UK/USA for the past 5 years. It has been 7 years since I have been thinking in English without the need of translation to my mother tongue, however I have to admit I cannot use the articles in English properly. I could learn all the standard rules (indeed I have), but there are many exceptions as it seems to me. I just do not imagine the right use of the articles automatically.
When writing I frequently come across dilemmas or even trilemmas: a definite or an indefinite article or no article?
I would like a native English speaker to describe to me in detail what exactly one imagines in one's head when hearing a word with no article, an indefinite article and a definite article.
I think in the text I wrote here I managed to use the articles properly, however in more complex situations I waver.
For example my current imagination can be described:
- When hearing a word with an indefinite article, I imagine one item of something new I do not have in my consciousness right now or one item for which I am concerned only with its existence, any other item of that type would do.
- When hearing a word with a definite article, I search the concept in my head which I already know about, have heard just now or is somewhere present around me or it is something specific that the other speaker tries to convey to me.
- When hearing a word without an article I imagine it is either something I cannot count and then the imagination is similar to 1. Or it is the name of something, not necessarily a given name, but the name I use for that concept, e.g. father (referring to my father).