Articles in Grammar


Articles in Grammar: The articles in Grammar belong to the word class known as determiners. The three articles in English are ‘a’. ‘an’ and ‘the’.

Articles in Grammar


The articles in Grammar belong to the word class known as determiners. The three articles in English are ‘a’. ‘an’ and ‘the’.

They are classified into: (Types of Articles)

  • The indefinite articles (‘a’ or ‘an’) and
  • The definite article (the).

The Indefinite Articles ‘a’ and ‘an’: (Articles in Grammar)


Use ‘a’ before:

(1) a singular noun beginning with a consonant.

e.g. a car, a school, a train

(i) a vowel beginning with y or a w sound.

e.g. a university, a European, a one-man show

Use ‘an’ before:

(1) a singular noun beginning with the vowel which does not have a y or w sound.  e.g. an airplane, an orange, an Italian

(u) a silent h

e.g. an hour, an honor

 a consonant in an abbreviation that begins with a vowel sound.

e.g. an MLA. an L-plate, an X-ray photo.

  • Use:

(1) To introduce something for the first time: ‘A’ or ‘an is used before a countable noun is mentioned for the first time. The speaker/writer assumes the listener/reader does not know what is referred to. e.g. I looked up and saw a plane. (One doesn’t know which plane the speaker is referring to).

(2) For making general statements/definitions: e.g. A cat is a domestic animal.

(3) The names of professions and occupations: e.g.) My sister is a Lawyer.  I want to become an Engineer

The same rule applies to nouns such as hero, genius, and fool. Thief and liar.

(4) Before an example of a particular class mentioned:

(1) He is a Shakespeare

2) The assailant used a Smith & Wesson (a brand of revolver),

 (5) With expressions such as a pinch of salt, a kilo of sugar, a basket of fruits, etc.

(6) With collective nouns: e.g. an army of soldiers, a bunch of flowers, a flock of sheep, a set of cutlery, etc.

(7) To mean ‘only one’: The most common use of ‘a’ or ‘an’ is to mean ‘only one’ when we are not specifying any particular person or thing. e.g. I would like an apple. (only one: It doesn’t matter which).

Examples of Indefinite Articles ‘a’ and ‘an’: (Articles in Grammar)

  • A boy, A cat, A man
  • An Apple, An egg, An ink pot, An orange, An umbrella
  • An Hour, An honest girl. 
  • A University, A Union, A European 
  • He is a doctor, She is a Teacher 
  • Ramesh is an Actor 
  • A hundred, A couple, An eight, An inch 
  • Five rupees a kilo., fifty kilometers an hour, Two Times a day 
  • A few, In a bus, in a Hurry 
  • Paresh saw a most beautiful picture
  • What a clever girl Sonali is!

The Definite Article ‘the’: (Articles in Grammar)


The article normally has a definite reference (Le. the person or thing referred to is assumed to be known to the speaker/writer, or listener/reader. They can be used before singular countable (the book), plural countable (the books), and uncountable (the water) nouns.

Use :

(1) It is used when we refer to something already mentioned earlier.

e.g. A doctor and a nurse were standing beside his bed. The doctor (Le. the one just mentioned) was Vipul Rane.

(a) The doctor on duty was Vipul Rane.

(2) before a superlative or an ordinal number: e.g. Vipul Rane is the best doctor in town.

He lives in the third house on the left.

(3) before ‘of phrases:

e.g. Mumbai University – the University of Mumbai (u) Indian history – the history of India

(4) for unique things:

The’ is used when the object or group of objects is unique. e.g. the earth, the sky, the equator, the stars

(5) Certain other items/things/events which are considered ‘unique’: eg. Institutions/organizations: the Boy Scouts/the United Nations, etc.

(Historical events: the French Revolution/the Elizabethan Age, etc.) 

(Public bodies: the Army, the Police, etc.) 

(iv) Ships: Queen Elizabeth, the Titanic, etc.

(v) Species: the Dinosaurs, the Reptiles, etc.

(6) In-time expressions: e.g.) the beginning, the middle, the end ut in the morning, in the afternoon tail all the while, at the moment in the end, etc.

Omission of Articles:

Articles are omitted when:

1) general statements are made: e.g.

(a) Women deserve a better deal

(b) Schools have vacations during Diwali.

(c) Teachers are called for census work.

(d) Apples contain a lot of vitamins.

(2) before Proper, Material, and Abstract nouns :

e.g. (a) Dinesh is a good boy.

(b) Sugar must be avoided by all diabetic patients.

(e) We cannot live without water.

(d) Perseverance is the key to success.

(3) before months, seasons, and holidays:

e.g. (a) Mondays are always busy

(b) Monday is always a busy day.

(c) May is very hot in India.

(4) before nouns like school, hospital, etc.

when we refer to their primary purpose. Le, the primary activity associated with them: e.g. bed, church. class, college, hospital, market, prison, school, work, etc.

(a) He is in bed. (=for the purpose of sleeping.) Your bag is under the bed. (=just an item specified)

(b) Children went to school.(= to study)

The parents were called to the school. (=for some purpose other than study)

(e) He was sent to prison. (=as an inmate for some crime)

The minister visited the prison. (=to inspect the establishment)

(d) He was admitted to the hospital. (=as a patient) His relatives rushed him to the hospital. (=as visitors or helpers)

Examples of The Definite Article ‘the’: (Articles in Grammar), Activity exercise

  1. we celebrate our Independence Day on the Fiftinth August. 
  2. The highest range of mountains in the world is the Himalayas.  
  3. The Tajmahal attracts a lot of tourists. 
  4. The Ganga is a Holy River. 
  5. The distance from the sum to the earth is 149.6 million kilometers.  

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