2.1 Kinds of Articles

2.1.1 The Indefinite Article

2.1.2 The Definite Article


An article is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. Articles specify the grammatical definiteness of the noun. The articles in the English language are the, a, and an.

2.1 Kinds of Articles

2.1.1 The Indefinite Article ‘a/an’:

The form a is used before a word beginning with a consonant, or a vowel with a consonant sound. 

Examples: a man         a European               a university

                  a hat          a one-way street       a ewe

The form an is used before words beginning with a vowel (a, e, I, o, u) or words beginning with a mute consonant, or before individual letters spoken with a vowel sound.

Examples: an apple       an island                     an M.P

                  an yield        an  egg                      an hour

Use of ‘a/an’:

  1. a/an is used before a singular noun which is countable, when it is mentioned for the first time and represents no particular person or thing.

 Examples: I need a pen.

                  They live in a bungalow.

  1. a/an is used before a singular countable noun which is used as an example of a class of things.

 Examples: A child needs love. (all children, any child)

                   A car must be maintained. (all cars, any car)

  1. a/an is used in certain expressions of quantity, with certain numbers and in expressions of price.

 Examples: a lot of                 a couple          Rs.10 a kilo

                  a great many        a dozen           50ps a dozen

 Before half when half follows a whole number. However, a half holiday, a half portion, a half share is possible.

 Examples: 1 ½ kilos=one and a half kilos or a kilo and half, but 1/2kg=half a kilo (not a before half)

  1. In exclamations before singular, countable nouns.

 Examples: Such a long queue!

                  What a pretty girl!

  1. a can be placed before Mr./Mrs./Miss.

Examples: A Mr. Patel, means a man called Patel and implies that he is a stranger to   the speaker.

                 Mr. Patel, would mean that the speaker knows him.

  1. a/an are used in the following cases.

 Examples: in an assembly of 30 people            a breach of peace

                  to give an assurance                        lack of a quorum


 The indefinite article cannot be used before plurals So,

  a man – men (not a men)

  an ostrich – ostriches (not an ostriches)

2.1.2 The Definite Article ‘the’

Use of ‘the’:

  1. The definite article is used when the object or group of objects is unique or considered to be unique.

Examples: the earth           the equator          the moon

                  the sun              the stars              the yellow trees

  1. The is used to talk about people and things have already been mentioned.

Example: She has two children-a girl and a boy. The boy is fourteen, the girl is eight.

  1. The is used before a noun made definite by the addition of phrase or a clause.

Examples: the girl in blue                 the place where I met her

                  the man with the gun       the paper that I write on

  1. The is used before a noun which by reason of locality can represent only one particular thing.

Examples: My wife was in the kitchen. (the kitchen of this home)

                Please pass the salt. (the salt on the table)

  1. The is used before superlatives and words like first, second, etc. It is used before adjectives or pronouns and before only.

Examples: the first week               the only way          the best plan

  1. The  is used as an adverb with a comparative.

Examples: the sooner                 the better               the more the merrier

  1. The + singular noun can represent a class of animals or things.

Examples: The tiger is in danger of becoming extinct.

                  The refrigerator has made life easier for housewives.

But “man’’, used to represent the human race, has no article.

Example: Man is mortal.

  1. The+ adjective represents a class of persons.

 Examples: the old (old people in general)              the rich

  1. The is used before certain proper names of seas, rivers, groups of islands, chains of mountains, plural names of countries, desert, regions, famous buildings, classics, newspapers and abbreviations.

Examples: the Atlantic               the Godavari                  the Himalayas

                 the Hague                 the Arabian Gulf             the North Pole

 10) The is used before other proper names consisting of adjective + noun or noun + of + noun

Examples: the Asiatic Society          the Gateway of India

11) The is also used in the given cases:

  • given someone the benefit of the doubt

e.g. two guys wearing the same colored clothes one throws a stone at someone,later they see one of the guys he says it was the other guy, they decide to give him the benefit of the doubt, they cant be sure it was him as they both looked a like

  • go on the rampage

     Violently angry and destructive behavior

  • go to the cinema, the theatre
  • at the national level
  • at the point of the knife
  • she is of the opinion
  • give the slip
  • in accordance with the law
  • I would like to learn the piano. (musical instruments)



From the given options choose the most appropriate one and fill in the blanks given below.

1.    They have formed ________union.

(a)     a                            (b)    the

(c)     an                          (d)    either ‘b’ or ‘c’

(e)     both ‘a’ and ‘b’

2.     I am ________teacher.

(a)    a                             (b)    an

(c)    the                          (d)     either ‘a’ or ‘b’

(e)    none of these

3.      _______ hundred sweets make ________kilo.

(a)    A, a                         (b)     The, the

(c)    An, a                       (d)      A, the

(e)    Either ‘a’ or ‘c’

4.      These were five items in __________dinner held at_________Rajdoot hotel.

(a)     The, the                 (b)      The, a

(c)      A, a                      (d)      An, the

(e)      Either ‘b’ or ‘a’

5.       I could not accept ________dinner offered by him.

(a)     a                            (b)       an

(c)     the                         (d)       none of these

(e)     either ‘c’ or ‘b’


1. (c)        2.(a)         3. (a)          4. (a)          5. (c)