Uses of Articles (A, An, The)


We will learn about articles and their uses in this tutorial. Articles specify and determine nouns. And it indicates the number of the nouns also.

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Meaning of an Article in English language

Article work as a determiner. There are three articles – 'a', 'an', and 'the' – in the English language. The uses of the articles in sentences are different.


  • Please give me the book I wanted.

  • We have a cat at our home.

Classifications of Articles

There are mainly two types of articles in the English language:

  • Definite article

  • Indefinite article.

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Definite article

A definite article specifies the meaning of the noun. And it particularises the noun. 'The' is the only definite article.


We are going to the fair near our school.

(Here 'the' indicates that fair that is organized near their school.)

Indefinite article

An indefinite article introduces a noun without specifying it.

'A' and 'an' are indefinite articles.


He bought an apple from the market.

She is a teacher.

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Uses of Indefinite Articles

Uses of indefinite articles 'a' and 'an' depend on the words before it sits.

  • The article should be 'an' if the word starts with a vowel sound. Words with a consonant sound take the article 'a'.

  • For example, you should say 'an' apple as the word 'apple' starts with a vowel sound. In contrast, you can say 'a' papaya as the word 'papaya' begins with a consonant sound.

  • Indefinite articles help to introduce something. The indefinite article 'a’ indicates a single or one thing.

  • Example 1

    I saw a car.

    Example 2

    I told you a hundred times not to do this.

  • The choice of indefinite articles depends on the sound of the word only. The word with which the article is used can start with a vowel, and it will take 'a' as an article, for example, an umbrella.

  • And the word which starts with a consonant can take the article 'an' for the pronunciation of the word, for example, an heir.

Some more examples will help you to understand the uses of indefinite articles:

'An' before abbreviation

  • An MA

  • An SDO

'An' before silent 'h'

  • An hour

  • An honest

  • An honour

'An' before words starting with vowels

  • An orange

  • An egg

'A' precedes words starting with a vowel but having a consonant sound.

  • A one-eyed deer

Uses of 'A' and 'An' with Adjective

  • Sometimes indefinite articles refer to a noun that is modified by an adjective.

  • For example,

    This is an interesting story. (Here, ‘interesting’ is an adjective that modifies the noun ‘story’)

  • Sometimes indefinite articles precede nouns along with adverbs and adjectives.

  • For example,

    Mr Mehta is such a great teacher. (Here, 'great' is an adverb and 'teacher' is a noun)

Uses of Definite article (The)

'The' is the only definite article that defines the noun. Its uses are as mentioned below.

  • Article 'the' is used before a particular place, person, or thing.

  • Examples: the school, the earth, and the President.

  • Article 'the' is used before names of unique places like the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, and the Statue of Liberty.

  • 'The' indicates a whole group or class of people.

  • Example: the middle-class people, the Christians, and the soldiers.

  • 'The' indicates a special mountain range, river, group of islands, group of lakes, oceans, and seas.

  • Examples: The Himalayas, the Ganges, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Pacific Ocean.

  • 'The' before particular newspapers and magazines.

  • Examples: The Telegraph, the Hindu, etc.

  • 'The' specifies the names of the holy books of different religions.

  • Examples: The Bible, the Bhagavat Gita, and the Quran.

  • 'The' before abbreviations which look like this - the HDFC and the USA.

  • Definite articles are mandatory when mentioning some countries, and also states and kingdoms. Countries those have plural names also need definite articles—for example, the Philippines.

  • 'The' sits before artworks.

  • Examples: the Mona Lisa and the Starry Night.

  • 'The' is used before names of deserts and peninsulas.

  • Examples: The Sahara Desert and the Kalahari Desert.

  • 'The' sits before heavenly bodies like the moon, the galaxy, and the sky.

  • 'The' denotes the superlative degree.

  • Examples: the best, the largest, the brightest, and the strongest.

  • 'The' is used before ordinal numbers and directions.

  • Examples: the first, the south, and the east.

Omission of Articles

In some cases, you should not use articles. They are as mentioned below.

Do not use articles in -

  • Sports like cricket, football, hockey so on.

  • Majority of country names such as Sweden, Italy, etc.

  • City/ street/towns/villages, for example, Bangalore, 7th Avenue, etc.

  • Lake/ mountains such as Dal Lake, Mount Everest and so on.

  • Continents such as Asia, Europe, etc.

  • Many languages and nationalities, such as French and so on.

  • Indefinite articles are not used before uncountable nouns like water, milk, flour, etc.


Articles play an important role in defining nouns. It specifies the meaning of nouns to make sentences relevant.


Q1: What is an article?

Ans: An article determines and specifies a noun. Examples: a bird, the west and so on.

Q2: How many articles do we use in the English language?

Ans: We use three articles a, an and the in the English language.

Q3: What is the importance of a definite article?

Ans: The definite article 'the' precedes particular nouns to limit the meaning in the sentence.

Examples: I am reading the book now

Q4: State the main difference between 'a' and 'an' in sentences.

Ans: 'A' precedes nouns that start with a consonant sound. And 'an' precedes nouns that begin with vowel sounds.


  • I am filling an empty glass

  • I have brought a banana.

Q5: Can we use articles before any noun?

Ans: We generally do not use articles before proper nouns. And when uncountable nouns indicate abstract or plural ideas, articles do not precede such nouns as there is no prior reference to mark in the sentence.


  • Children like ice cream.

  • Creativity is god's gift.

Updated on: 05-Dec-2022

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