I know that native English speakers can use "a/an" and "the" correctly by the age of 3, but how do they explicitly learn the grammar of articles in their grammar classes? I'm not asking how to use articles correctly, but how much a native English speaker (in particular, a native American English speaker raised in the US) explicitly knows about them.
- Does a diligent teenager who has been attentive to their grammar classes know the term "article" in the same way that they know terms such as "noun", "subject", and "verb"? If yes, when do they learn this concept?
- Do they also know the terms "indefinite article" and "definite article"? Can they explain the difference?
- If I ask them to explain the difference between "This is a dog" and "This is the dog", what would a typical response be like? Do they just give me a blank stare? Will they manage to think of a correct explanation after a while?
I'm asking this because I often teach my native language (Japanese) to English speakers. Japanese does not have articles, but can express the definiteness of a noun in a different way (namely, は and が, which are called "particles"). Average native Japanese speakers never learn the functional difference between は and が explicitly in school, presumably because the concept of definiteness is too complex for teenagers. As a result, even though they can use は and が correctly from the age 3, they can almost never explain the difference even after graduating from high school. I'm curious if it's the same with average native English speakers trying to explain about English articles — knowing it can help me teach my language better to English speakers.