Getting to grips with articles

Articles in the English Language.

The three most common articles in English are a, an and the.

A and an are indefinite  articles.

the is a definite article.

To explain  indefinite in simple terms, it means the noun that the article precedes is not know to the audience/recipient of the sentence. For example  in the sentence 'A cat sat on the wall.' we have no idea which cat on the wall,, only that is was a cat.

We use the article the in front of a noun if the noun has been mentioned before in the conversation or the audience/recipient knows

which particular person/object is being spoken about. For example, 'The house on the left'.

Rules for using articles.

Definite Article A and An

Use a in front of nouns that begin with a vowel but which sound like they begin with a consonant. For example: a user (sounds like 'yoo-zer,' i.e. begins with a consonant 'y' sound, so 'a' is used); a university; a unicycle.

Use an in from of nouns that have a silent h for example. an hour, an heiress. An exception is the word historical.

If the noun is modified by an adjective, the choice between a and an depends on the initial sound of the adjective that immediately follows the article. For example::

a broken egg
an unusual problem
a European country (sounds like 'yer-o-pi-an,' i.e. begins with consonant 'y' sound)

Indefinite Article The

The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. For example: 'The cat that scratched me ran away' Here we are referring to a specific cat, that is the particular cat that scratched me.

'The girls go home by bus.' Here we are referring to a specific group of girls who go home by bus.

Use the when referring to islands, groups of states, names of rivers,forests,gulfs,points on the globe and geographical areas. For example 'The Bahamas', 'The United States of America', 'The West'.


Pull in the correct articles a, an or the where necessary, in the following sentences.

  1. hamster is better pet that mouse.
  2. dog that bit me was brown with white spots.
  3. Rome is capital of Italy.
  4. visit by the President was historical occasion.
  5. Seychelles islands are tropical paradise.
  6. boy loved friendly elephant at zoo and gave elephant apple.
  7. man and woman make a couple.
  8. Amazon is mighty river.
  9. Gulf of Mexico is rather warm.

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