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Articles

 There are quite a few likely words that can connect together with a noun to create what is called a noun phrase. An article is a kind of adjective which is always used with and gives information about a noun in the noun phrase. It is a type of determiner that leads a noun. If something in general is referred and the nouns used are either plural or uncountable, an article is left out.
When to use 'an' instead of 'a'
An is used instead of a to make speaking easier. An is used when the first sound of the next word is a vowel sound.
Note: Consonants can create a vowel sound, and vowels can create a consonant sound. The use of an is determined by the sound not the letter.
Example: A house, An hour
[House starts with a consonant sound, however hour starts with a vowel sound.]
Articles

Noun phrases can also include demonstratives (this, these, that, those) or numbers or adjectives. There is an option not to use an article in front of either plural nouns or uncountable nouns.

 

What is an Article?

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Articles specify the grammatical definiteness of the noun. An article is used to indicate the reference that is made to a noun whether the noun refers to something specific or not. There are only three articles in English: a, an and the. The word “a” which becomes “an” when the following word begins with a vowel – “a, e, i, o, u” is called the indefinite article because the noun it proceeds with is indefinite or general. The word “the” is known as the definite article and indicates a specific thing. The difference between the sentences I sat on a recliner and I sat on the recliner is that the second sentence refers to a particular, specific recliner, not just any recliner.

The most important thing is to choose the right article in forming a sentence, and this is done by categorizing the noun as count and uncount.

Count Noun - A count noun can have a number in front of it such as: 5 apples, 3 teachers, 10,00,000 people etc.
  • One must put an article in front of a singular count noun.
  • One can make a count noun plural and put a number in front of it.
  • One can put both a/an and the in front of a count noun.
  • One must use a plural count noun with no article if you mean all or any of that thing.
  • Use an (not a) when the next word (adverb, adjective, noun) starts with a vowel sound.
  • One must usually use a/an with a count noun the first time you say or write that noun.
Uncount Noun - An uncount noun cannot have a number in front of it such as: 1 luck, 4 perfumes, 57 facts.
  • One cannot put a number in front of an uncount noun and make it plural.
  • One cannot say a/an with an uncount noun.
  • Use an uncount noun with no article if that thing is meant in general.
  • Use the with an uncount noun when talking about a particular example of that thing.

What is an Article?

The most important rules to be followed are:

You use an uncount noun with no article if you mean all or any of that thing.

  • I need help!
  • I don't eat pizza.
  • Do you like football?

You use the with an uncount noun when you are talking about a particular example of that thing.

  • Thanks for the help you gave me yesterday.
  • I didn't eat the sandwich. It was green!
  • Did you like the music they played at the dance?

You usually use a/an with a count noun the first time you say or write that noun.

  • Can I borrow a pen, please?
  • There's a puppy in the garden!
  • Do you have an iPod player?

You use the with count nouns the subsequent times you use the noun, or when the listener already knows what is being referred to.

  • Where's the pen I lent you yesterday?
  • I think the dog belongs to the new neighbors.
  • Please shut the door!

You use a plural count noun with no article if you mean all or any of that thing.

  • I don't like cats.
  • Do they have children?
  • I don't need questions. Give me answers!

The above rules apply whether there is or there is not an adjective in front of the noun.

  • Can I borrow a blue pencil, please?
  • There's an extremely large cat in the garden!
  • I don't like small, noisy children.

Examples of Articles

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The examples of Articles in use are:
  • I need a paper.
  • I want an apple.
  • I want the red apple.
  • The car I bought broke down.
  • I've built a strong ship.
  • The lecturer assigned a book to read.
  • A good idea is all I need to start a new business.
  • I fell over the chair again.
  • I loved the apple pie after the meal.
  • I'm not a troublemaker. I'm the troublemaker!
  • Lorraine wants to see a movie.
  • A man on the street stepped on my foot.
  • I remember the day we first met.
  • Do you remember the movie we watched together?
  • The feeling I got was very strange.
  • He has a son and a daughter. The daughter is a doctor.

Types of Articles

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There are two types of Articles:
  1. The Definite Article [the]
  2. The Indefinite Article [a and an]

The Definite Article [the] - Definite articles imply that the noun is 'specifically identifiable', there is only one definite article, and its "the." We use "the" for uncountable, singular and plural nouns. We use the when the thing spoken about is already mentioned. or

  • when we refer backwards to something that we have already mentioned
  • when we refer forwards to something that we can take for granted will happen
  • when we refer to our common ground or shared knowledge

Example:

  • the Nile
  • the Atlantic
  • the North pole
  • the rain
  • the Tony Blair
  • the White house

The Indefinite Article [a and an] - Indefinite refers to 'identifiable in general.' The indefinite article a/an, occurs when the listener is not expected to identify the object specifically. A and an are used before nouns that introduce something or someone you have not mentioned before. If a word begins with a vowel sound, use"an," and if it begins with a consonant sound use"a."
Example:

  • a blue bus
  • a swimming pool
  • a tiger
  • an ugly hat
  • an elephant
  • an English Professor

Exercise

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Choose the correct definite or indefinite article: "the", "a", "an" or leave the space blank if no article is required.
  • She lives in England, which is part of _____UK.
  • She works for ______ FBI.
  • ______ U.N. has its headquarters in New York.
  • Have you put ______ cat out?
  • We'll need to take a chopper to cut the trees.
  • We have  _____ beautiful garden.  ______ garden is full of roses.
  • I think _____ man over there is very unfriendly.
  • Kobe Bryant is __________ basketball player.
  • I read  _______  amazing story yesterday.
  • My brother does not eat ______ chicken.
  • _____ love is such ______ beautiful thing.
  • This is __________ best Mexican restaurant in the country. 
  • Someone call __________ policeman! 
  • Gold is ______ precious metal.
  • Gregory is one of ___ strangest people I know.
  • Aladdin had _______ magic lantern.
  • Donna is ________English teacher.
  • Can you tell me how to get to ___ cinema from here?
  • I can't believe I failed ___ yesterday's test!

Write the following paragraphs, inserting a, an, and the where needed.

Most people have fewer hours to give to time-consuming activities of clubs than they used
to have, but most people in small town belong to club or two. One of clubs is likely to be
social and benevolent organization, such as Rotary or Elks. Business people are likely to
belong, also to either Kiwanis Club or Lions. Such business people's organizations may meet as often as once a week in one of private dining rooms of town's leading hotel for lunch. They have good lunch, hear good program, and continue their fundraising program for
worthy organization, such as local hospital.


More topics in Articles
Definite Articles Indefinite Articles
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