Otavan Opiston logoOtavan OpistoNettilukioNettiperuskouluMuikku

3 A Sunday Stroll

Exercise 3.1

Exploring the neighbourhood

These last days you’ve been busy organizing your life and making practical arrangements. Now it’s Sunday and you can take a deep breath: there is nothing you can do today but to take it easy and get to know your new home town/city. Take your time and explore it! Write a description of your new home city, where you cover the aspects given below (1 + 2 + 3). The text should be about 300 words altogether. Remember to add your sources and use your own words.

Photo: Flickr / Charles & Clint

1) Your home street

Use Google Maps to place your new home. Feel free to choose your neighbourhood! Choose the Street View option and take a look at your new home street. How is it? Describe your impressions on your new stomping grounds; what are the buildings like, are there any parks etc.?

2) Grocery

Check the list on supermarket chains in the UK, in the USA or in Australia, according to where your new home is.

List of supermarket chains in the UK
Largest U.S. retail supermarket and grocery store chains
Retail chains in Australia

What seem to be the biggest chains? How about your grocery shop: search the Net for your closest grocery shop (use Google maps and then simply use your street address and a name of the shop as your key word)

PS. What to buy from the grocery? Here’s a good list to start with!

3) My new home city/town/village

What are the facts and figures of your new home city/town? Introduce the city/town briefly in your own words. You can tell about the population, most important sights, history, what the city is famous for... Search the Net for information, but remember to use only your own words and add the sources you’ve used.

A Tip! How to make sure that you use only your own words when writing a text? Follow these steps:

  • search a couple of good sites that you want to use as a source. It’s good to have at least two sites.
  • make notes: write down some key words and figures, perhaps phrases - no whole sentences!
  • close the source pages
  • start writing your own text. Use your own notes, don’t open the source pages!

Exercise 3.2

How’s the weather today? 

Tell about the weather in your home country. While you watch the weather report, you come to think about collecting a word list, to help you remember the words better. A good tool for collecting a word list is Google Drive or any other shared way of making notes (e.g. Evernote) - it helps you to access your notes wherever you are.

How to use Google Drive:

  • You need a gmail address. If you don’t have one yet, create yourself a Google account (it’s free) and sign in.
  • Choose “Drive” (upper bar)
  • Choose “Create” (left hand bar) - A document
  • You get an empty document that you can use for creating a word list. Notice that you can use colours etc.
  • Share your document: ín the upper right hand corner there is “jaa”/”share”. Choose “jokainen linkin saanut voi tarkastella”. Copy the link there.
  • Submit the link in the box below so that your teacher can see your word list.
  • After this, you can also continue working with the google docs: add words onto this list or create new, theme-based vocabularies...

In the UK
Visit BBC weather. Under "The United Kingdom", click the "summary". Read the forecast summary for the coming week. Also, listen to the UK forecast video.
Now, make a word list on the topic “weather”. Collect at least 20 words and expressions that are used on this site to talk about the weather.

In the USA
Visit Weather.com. Choose “local” and enter the name of your city/town. Read the forecast summary for the coming week. Also, listen to the forecast video.
Now, make a word list on the topic “weather”. Collect at least 20 words and expressions that are used on this site to talk about the weather.

In Australia:
Visit WeatherZone. Choose your area and collect at least 20 words and expressions that are used on this site to talk about the weather.

Add your word list here. Translate the words also into Finnish.


Photo: Flickr / oatsy40

Exercise 3.3

The weather now!

How’s the weather in your new home city/town today? After learning about the weather today, give your own weather report and record it (1-2 minutes) and submit your sound file here:

Grammar Lesson 3 - Articles

What are articles and when are they used in English? 

Articles are little words, a, an and the, that are used before a noun. Which article is chosen, depends on different things:

  1. what kind of a noun are we using (countable or uncountable common noun or a proper noun)?
  2. are we talking about things in general or about particular examples?
  3. when talking about particular examples, are these examples definite or indefinite?

Before continuing with these questions, let’s take a look at Countable and Uncountable Words, as they are of importance, when talking about the articles.

Countable words mean that you can count them and they can have plurals:

a dog, two dogs, three dogs

Uncountable words can’t be counted and they don’t have plurals:

milk, honey, love, fog..

Now, let’s take a closer look at the articles.


The article A/AN indicates that the noun is indefinite: it can indicate

1) a new, indefinite object that is mentioned for the first time.

I saw a girl at a cafe.
There is a surprise for you!

This means that when a countable noun is mentioned for the first time and we don’t know yet exactly which member of the group it is, we choose the indefinite article a or an.

Remember: choosing between a or an depends on the first sound of the next word: if it is a consonant, choose a, if it is a vowel, choose an:

a dog, a house, a doll, a storm
an apple, an idiot, an alphabet, an hour (the pronunciation counts!)

Note also that it is the pronunciation of the next word that counts:

I saw an apple on the table.
I saw a red apple on the table.

Note also that the indefinite article is used instead of one. You only use the word one when
you need to emphasise the number.

There is a book on the table.
There is one book on the table, not three.

2) any member of a group:

I want to have a dog. (This can be any dog because we haven’t found the dog yet.)
Somebody call a police officer! (This can be any police officer, we don’t mean any specific person.)

3) that someone belongs to a group. This group can be an occupation, a religious group, a political group or a nationality:

Miss Thacker is a teacher.
Mizuki is a Buddhist.
Obama is a Democrat.
Pat is an Irishman.

4) The indefinite article indicates that someone/something is an example of a certain group:

He is a good friend of mine
The movie is a good example of horror films.

5) It is used to express the measure in the expressions of time, amount or price:

We meet once a year.
Bottled water can cost up to two pounds a litre.

Photo: Wikimedia

The place of the article:

The indefinite article usually comes before the noun and all its modifiers (adjectives):

We bought a beautiful, red car.

The exceptions to this rule are the following words:

half, such, what, quite, rather, as, how, however, so, too

With these words, the indefinite article comes between these and the noun:

half an hour
such a pretty skirt
What a drag!
quite a long time
rather a long time
how important a role
However high a salary you get you are never satisfied.
too important a matter



The pronunciation of the definite article the depends on the following word: if the following word begins with a vowel, the is pronounced [ði]. If the following word begins with a consonant, the pronunciation is [ð3]

The definite article the indicates that we know the noun in question, we know which specific individual object the speaker is referring to. This can be the case in the following situations:

1) We have already mentioned the object, we know exactly which object is meant:

I met a girl yesterday. The girl was travelling on the same train.

2) The object is defined by an of genitive or a prepositional phrase:

The roof of that house is green
The smell of fish was lingering in the room.
The flowers in the vase are beautiful.

3) It is obvious in the situation which object is meant:

Would you please open the window? (the speaker refers to the window in the room)
We live near the market place. (There’s only one market place in the town.)
Did you hear about the plane crash yesterday? The pilot really saved the situation! (The plane crash (that happened yesterday), the pilot of that plane that crashed yesterday)

4) There’s only one of the objects (sometimes these are opinions or world view choices):

the moon, the sun, the sky, the world, the God, the Pope, the Equator, the North Pole...

5) If the noun refers to all objects in that group:

Is the wolf a dangerous animal? (Wolf as a species, all wolves)

6) Also with adjectives to indicate the whole group:

the poor, the rich, the bold and the beautiful

7) With superlatives:

the tallest boy, the brightest day, the longest river, the best movie ever...

8) With ordinal numbers:

In the 19th century
Pete Conrad was the third man to walk on the moon.
The first prize goes to...
Please note: He came second in the race.

9) With certain words that clearly specify the noun:

the next, the following, the only, the last

Note: if the words next and last are used to talk about time (in Finnish: ensi, viime), then no article is used.

10) With musical instruments

Sue plays the piano, Mick plays the drums.

11) Public institutions:

the army, the police, the radio


Definite article THE with proper names

The main rule is that no article is used with proper nouns (= names). However, there are some exceptions to this rule:

1) Countries with the word kingdom, states, republic

the United Kingdom
the United States of America
the Republic of Ireland

3) Countries whose names are in plural:

the Netherlands, the Philippines

4) Names of organizations:

the European Union
the United Nations

5) Some geographical names:

All bodies of water except for lakes:

the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Thames, the English Channel

Geographical names in plural:

the Alps, the Rockies, the Canary Islands

6) With a noun indicating location or the point of compass:

in the north of Finland, to the right

Note: if the noun of location / point of compass is followed by a proper name or there is no preposition, no article is used:

eastern Finland, southern China (point of compass + proper noun)
We headed south (= we headed to the south)



No article is used in the following cases:

1) With uncountable nouns:

I prefer tea to coffee.
There’s snow on the ground.

An exception: if you refer to a portion, a specific unit, then you use the article:

Would you like to have a coffee?
Would you pass me the salt, please?

2) With proper names:

Hugh Grant often seems confused.
I’d love to visit Paris.
Grace lived in Monaco.

Note: in the following cases the definite article is used:

Family names in plural: Have you met the Smiths?

The names of most buildings: the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower

Titles with no person’s name in them: the Prince of Wales, the Queen
(but: Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles)

3) If we talk about things in general

I love books! (Books in general, not any specific books)
People are often curious (People in general, not any specific persons)

4) With many institutes or places no article is used if the focus is on action:

She was in prison.
My granny is in hospital.
Leslie goes to school.

Note: when the focus is on the building, not on the action that takes place there, then an article is used:

The school is an old brick building
I plan to visit the hospital today to greet my granny.

5) Many nouns referring to transport take no article:

by plane, by taxi, on foot

6) Many illnesses are used without an article:

he died of cancer, he suffers from diabetes

7) Sports

Football is very popular around the world.
Kate plays tennis.

8) A noun after the following determiners takes no article:
kind of, sort of, type of, class of, variety of, species of

that kind of book
the sort of girl
my type of wedding
many species of beetles 

Grammar: About the articles - A short summary in Finnish

Exercise 3.4

Fill in the articles (a, an, the, -):

The Sauna
By Enrique Tessieri

If  person asked me to say what is one of  most important pillars of  Finnish culture, Iʼd respond:  sauna.
The sauna is more than  room where people bathe and sweat naked in 80-100 Celsius (176-212 Fahrenheit) temperatures. Itʼs  way of life for  most Finns. So much so, in fact, that when we die some hope there will be  sauna in heaven or hell.
Itʼs interesting to note that ‘sauna’ is  only Finnish word that has spread and been adopted by so many languages to describe  sweat bath. Well... in almost all languages except for Swedish, where it's called bastu.
The sauna is  good yardstick – like  automobile in the U.S. – to measure how living standards have risen in this country. Compared to about 2 million today, there were some 1.5 million saunas in 1990 versus half  million in the 1930s.
We have two saunas: one at home and another one at  summerhouse. My ultimate dream, however, is to have four:  smoke sauna for special occasions like Christmas;  wood-burning and electric sauna in  country; and  electric sauna in  city.
 sauna-bathing ritual has changed very little over time.  only matter that has changed during  past century is  technology we use to heat  stones. While  most saunas are electric,  few will disagree that  best steam comes from  stones heated by  deciduous trees like birch.

Photo: Flickr / MiikaS

Exercise 3.5

Fill in a, an, the when needed. If you think no article is necessary, indicate that choice with a hyphen (-).

Huom! Merkitse tyhjä kohta tavuviivalla!

  friend of mine told me funny story. story was about dog and its new master. dog was four-year-old Labrador retriever. It had already lived with family of   five people, but family had moved abroad and they had had to get new family for  dog. They found new owner with help of friend who knew them all.
dog had always had strange habit of turning on TV whenever it was alone. former owner had taught dog which button to push to turn on  TV. owner had said that only then had remote control really been what it was supposed to be. master didn't have to do anything to turn on TV, not even touch  remote control. dog had extended its knowledge of operating remote control into entertaining itself also when it was alone; it watched TV, or at least heard sounds and voices in it.
When dog was sold former owner forgot to tell buyer about special skill  pet had. It didn't take more than  two days before dog had to be left alone in its new home. Of course dog found remote which looked little like one previous owner had had. It pushed upper right corner button which it thought would turn on TV. Nothing happened, so it kept on pushing button. According to neighbors, garage door was opened and closed at least six times before it finally was left open. owner had of course shut it before leaving and forgotten its remote control on living room table. next remote control dog operated turned on CD-player, so now dog got some kind of sounds to enjoy and stopped testing remote controls. About that time police, alarmed by neighbors in fear of robbery next door, stormed in only to find satisfied Labrador retriever lying on living room sofa. Later that evening new master called previous owner and found out about unusual habits of his new pet.


© Otavan Opisto / Heli Viitanen, Miia Sivén

Tämä oppimateriaali on lisensoitu Creative Commons Nimeä - Tarttuva 3.0 Muokkaamaton -lisenssillä. Mahdollisesti lisenssin ulkopuolelle jäävät oppimateriaalin osat on merkitty erikseen.

© 2015 Otavan Opisto