Learn how to use articles (a, an, the) in English.
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What Are Articles?
- Articles are small but important words in the English language.
- Articles are considered adjectives because they modify or help describe nouns.
- Articles always come before or precede the nouns they describe.
There are only three articles in English: a, an and the.
There are two types of articles indefinite ‘a’and ‘an‘ or definite ‘the’. You also need to know when not to use an article.
How to Use English Articles? (A|An|The)
Indefinite articles | A and An
The words a and an are called indefinite articles. We can use them with singular nouns to talk about any single person or thing.
Deciding which indefinite article to place in front of a word depends upon the initial sound of the word, not the first letter of the word.
When to use ‘a’
‘A’ is used before words beginning with a consonant sound.
E.g. A usual, a student, a doctor, a hotel.
When to use an
The article ‘an’ should be placed before words that begin with a vowel sound.
The initial sound should be a, e, i, o, or u.
E.g. An hour, an elephant, an actor, an ice-cream.
Definite Article | The
The Definite Article ‘the’ generally specifies and identifies. It answers the question: ‘Which one?’ Is specifies a person, place, or thing already mentioned.
The definite article ‘the’ means this, that. It answers the question which one?. It can be used with both singular and plural nouns. A noun is first introduced with the indefinite article and the definite article is used to refer to it again.
When Not to Use an English Article | No Article
1. We usually use no article to talk about things in general.
2. We do not use an article when talking about sports and games.
3. Do not use article before the names of countries unless the name suggests that the country is made up of smaller units or constituent parts.
Use the – the UK (United Kingdom), the USA (United States of America), the Irish Republic… (Kingdom, state, republic and union are nouns, so they need an article.)
4. Do not use article before the name of language.
5. Do not use article before the names of railway stations when they are also place names.
6. Do not use article before the names of meals if they refer to the meals generally, as a part of the daily routine.
7. Do not use article before noun + number.