Receptacles/Objects That Are Used to Hold Things


In English, we often use words to describe containers or objects that hold other things. These words, or receptacles as they are sometimes called, are used to reference the object in a general or specific way. This tutorial will delve into the realm of receptacles and how to use them correctly in the English language. It is essential to understand and use these words correctly to express ideas clear and vivid.

Understanding Receptacles

Receptacles, or objects that hold things, in the English language garner a wide range of words. These receptacle words often get used generically, as in tin, box, bag, and many others. Alternatively, they can be more specific, such as backpack, suitcase, or beer mug. Whether you realize it or not, you use receptacle words every day, and they play a vital role in our language and communication.

Types of Receptacles

Generic Receptacles

Let's first look at some common generic receptacles used in the English language. These words often describe a basic type of container without any specific details. Here are a few examples:

  • A box
  • A bag
  • A bottle
  • A jar

These generic words are super versatile. You can use them in a plethora of contexts. While these receptacles are not specific, they paint a broad picture in the listener's or reader's mind.

Specific Receptacles

The specifics of the same generic receptacles adds a layer of detail to our language. It offers precision and increases our ability to paint a vivid picture in someone else's mind. Here are a couple of examples of how we can make generic receptacles more specific:

  • A shoe box
  • A plastic bag
  • A wine bottle
  • A mason jar

We can also use more specific words right off the bat (like pail, teapot, or briefcase). The specific receptacles indicate the material they are made of, the use or purpose for which they are intended, and, often, their size or shape.

How to Use Receptacles in Sentences

Knowing when and how to use generic or specific receptacles can significantly aid in expressing various situations, ideas or descriptions. It's equally important to understand how articles (a, an, the) work with receptacles.

Example 1:

She opened (the) box to reveal a collection of old photos. (The) box is a general term, which doesn't specify the nature of the box. However, the use of "the" signifies a specific box, perhaps previously known or referred to.

Example 2:

Can you hand me a plastic bag, please? When "a" is used, it refers to any plastic bag, rather than a specific one. The use of "a" makes the request general.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Although receptacles are used daily, sometimes they can be misused, leading to confusion or miscommunication. Here are some typical mistakes to beware of:

Error 1:

Using specific receptacles when they're not necessary. Be aware of over-specification. If there is no particular need to specify the container type, it's often better to use the generic term. For example, saying, "Can you bring me (the) green plastic container with a red lid?" is overkill when "Can you bring me (the) box?" will suffice.

Error 2:

The use of the wrong article. As shown in the previous section, the usage of 'a' and 'the' significantly alters the meaning of a sentence. So, saying, "Hand me the bottle" implies a specific bottle has been discussed previously, whereas "Hand me a bottle" is requesting any bottle at hand. Therefore, use articles appropriately.


Occasionally overlooked, the correct usage of receptacles in English is essential in aiding clear communication. Whether they're generic or specific, receptacles help describe the world around us through our language. Moreover, avoiding common blunders related to them will enable English learners to increase their language proficiency significantly. So, next time when you use the term like 'bag', 'box', 'bottle', remember that they are more than just ordinary words. They're receptacles – key tools in our language toolbox!

Leave a Reply