You need to categorize the noun as count or noncount to choose the correct article.
- Countable nouns are individual objects, people, places, etc. which can be counted.
- Examples: an apple, a school, 1 picture, 2 pictures, 3 pictures, 2 men, 4 men, 8 men.
- Uncountable nouns are materials, concepts, information, etc. which are not individual objects and can not be counted.
Examples: information, water, understanding, wood, cheese.
Articles with Uncountable Nouns
1. We do not say a/an with an uncountable noun.
- water (NOT a water)
- weather (NOT a weather)
- music (NOT a music)
2. A number can not be put in front of an uncountable noun.
- a piece of news (NOT 1 news)
- two bottle of water (NOT 2 water)
- a grain of rice (NOT 1 rice)
3. An uncountable noun is used with no article if we mean that thing in general.
- He put sugar in his tea and stirred it.
- He taught music at a school in Edinburgh.
4. The is used with an uncountable noun when we are talking about a particular thing.
- I immerse my clothes in the water.
- She dissolved the sugar in the tea.
- Did you like the music they played at the dance?
Articles with Countable and Uncountable Nouns | Image.
Articles with Countable Nouns
1. We put a number in front of a countable noun.
- two cats
- three pens
- five students
2. We put both a/an and the in front of a countable noun.
- a book
- an apple
- the lions
3. A plural countable noun is used with no article if we mean all or any of that thing.
- She’s always out with her friends.
- He likes cats but dislikes dogs.
- I like books about sport.
4. We usually use a/an with a countable noun the first time we say or write that noun.
- John has a dog and a cat. The dog is called Rover, and the cat is called Fluffy.
5. We use the with countable nouns when the second and subsequent times we use the noun or when the listener already knows.
- I like the book you bought last night.
- I found the puppy whimpering next to the front door.
- Please open the window!
- I think I’ve broken the washing machine.