Articles: A/An and The

What is an Article?

An article is a word that combines with a noun/s and helps to determine whether a noun in any sentence or phrase is specific or general.

Example: After the long tiring day, the cup of tea refreshed the mind and body.
In this sentence, the use of the article ‘the’ specifies the day that was tiring and that one particular cup of tea that refreshed the body and mind.

Articles: A/An and The

Definite Article Examples: 

  • He threw the ball in the well.
  • I saw the thieves stealing jewels.
  • Where are the notes I shared with you yesterday?

Indefinite Article Example: 

  • She wore a pretty pink dress.
  • I saw tigers in a zoo.
  • He is not as good as an actor.
  • An apple a day builds immunity.

Use of ‘An’

  • Rule 1 – Before words beginning with vowel sounds (a, e, i, o, u are called vowels and others are called consonants).
    An apple, an egg, an owl.
  • Rule 2 – Before words beginning with a silent ‘h’
    an hour, an honourable man, an heir, an honest man.
  • Rule 3 – F, H, L, M, N, R, S, X are letters that are not vowels but begin with vowel sound.
     e.g. ‘M’ has the sound of ‘em’ (vowel sound).

    an M.L.A., an R.A.F., an N.C.C. officer, an F.I.R.  an X- ray, an H.E. school, an S.P. an LEA school, an X-ray.

Use of ‘A’

  • Rule 1 – (i) In the sense of one
    He couldn’t speak a word to save himself.
    (ii) With one
    A one man show, a one–rupee note. 
  • Rule 2 – Before words beginning with consonant sound.
    a boy, a box, a dog.

Try yourself:Which article will fill the blank: 
 _____ Banana. 

  • a.A
  • b.An
  • c.Un
  • d.None of the above

View Solution

  • Rule 3 – With vowel letters having consonant sound.
    A university, a unique article, a euphemism, a unit, a European language, (all these begin with consonant sound of ‘yu’) 
  • Rule 4 – With units and rate (per)
    He earns five hundred rupees a month.
    Rice sells at ten rupees a kilo.
    Give me a meter length of the cloth.
  • Rule 5 – In exclamatory expressions before singular countable nouns:
    What a pretty girl!
    What a sunny day!
  • Rule 6 – When two subjects or articles are thought of as a single unit.
    He was ready with a cup and saucer.
     A cigarette is made of a paper and tobacco.
    Try yourself:We saw ___ lions in ___ Safari
    • a.The, the
    • b.The, A 
    • c.The, no article 
    • d.No article, the
    View Solution

Use of ‘The’

  • Rule 1  When we speak of a particular person or thing already referred to: 
    The boy near the tap is my brother.
    She found a purse. The purse contained a golden chain. The golden chain is very precious.
  • Rule 2 – When a singular noun represents the whole class: 
    The mango is considered the king among fruit.
    The peacock is the national bird of India.
  • Rule 3 – With names of Gulfs, bays, rivers, oceans, seas, island groups, deserts and mountain ranges.
    The Himalayas, the Indian ocean, the Persian gulf, the Red sea, the Andaman and Nicobar islands, the Brahmaputra river.
  • Rule 4 – Sacred books:
    the Vedas, the Puranas, the Bible, the Ramacharitmanas. 
  • Rule 5 – Musical instruments:
    the flute, the violin, the tabla, the trumpet.
  • Rule 6 – The inventions:
    I hate the telephone for its constant ringing.
    The television is a gift of science.
  • Rule 7 – Parts of body: 
    He was wounded in the leg.
     They hit him on the hands.
  • Rule 8 – Religious groups:
    The Sikhs, the Hindus, the Parsees.
  • Rule 9 – Names enforcing law:
    The Police, the Navy, the Air Force.
  • Rule 10 – Political parties:
    The AAP, The Congress, The Janata party, The B.J.P. 
  • Rule 11 – Newspapers:
    The Tribune, The Hindustan Times
  • Rule 12  Before names of an empire, dynasty or historical event.
    The Gupta dynasty, The Old Stone Age, The First World War, The American Revolution.
  • Rule 13 – Clubs, foundations, etc.
    The lion’s club, The ford foundation.
  • Rule 14 – Before common nouns denoting unique things:
    The sun, The sky, The earth, The world, The stars.
  • Rule 15 – With superlatives:
    He is the best boy in the class.
  • Rule 16 – With ordinals:
    He took the first auto that came his way.
     He lives in the tenth block.
  • Rule 17 – Before the comparative degree:
    The more they get, the more they want.
     He is the cleverer of the two.
  • Rule 18 – Before an adjective when noun is understood:
    The poor would favour him.
     We must not shun the disabled.
    Try yourself:____ lilies in your backyard are beautiful.
    • a.A
    • b.The
    • c.An
    • d.No article
    View Solution

Omission of Article

Article is omitted in following cases: 

  • Before a Proper Noun.
    Akbar was a great king.
    When ‘Article’ is used before a proper noun, it becomes a common noun. 
    Mumbai is the Manchester of India.
    This man is the second Sachin.
  • Before a Common Noun, used in its widest sense. 
    Man is mortal.
    What kind of bird it is?
  • Before Plural Nouns referring a class in a general sense.

    Bankers are generally honest.
    Lawyers are generally intelligent. 
  • Before Abstract Nouns that express qualities, state, feeling, actions. 
    Honesty is the best policy.
    Virtue is its own reward.
    When abstract nouns, instead of referring to qualities, express person or things possessing such qualities or express qualities of definite objects, they are preceded by “Article.”
    She possesses the cunningness of a fox.
    (Here, cunningness refers the quality of a definite object that is ‘fox’).
    He has the dedication of an ideal student.
  • Before Material Nouns.
    Iron is a hard metal.
    Silver is a semi-precious metal.
    When material nouns express things instead of matter of which they are representing ‘common noun’, so they can be preceded by the Article.
    He threw a stone on the cow.
    She threw a stick at the pig. 
  • Before names of regular meals. 
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Example: He was invited to dinner.
    (But, if the meal becomes particular article is used).
    Example: The dinner hosted by the queen was superb.
  • Before names of ‘Languages’ or ‘Colours’.
    I do not know ‘Hindi’ but know ‘English’.
    I like red and blue colours.
  • Before certain titles and names indicating the relationship. 
    Prince Charles is Queen Elizabeth’s son.
    President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
  • Before a noun following the expression ‘kind of’

    What kind of girl is she?
    What kind of boy is he?
  • Before names of public institutions (Church, School, University, Prison, Hospital, Court, etc) if they are used, for the purpose they exist rather than actual building.  
    He went to church. (It means he went to church for saying his prayer)
    He went to the church and from there he took a bus. (Means that he went to the place where building of the church is situated)
  • When two or more descriptive adjectives qualify the same noun and adjectives are connected by ‘and’; the article is used before the first adjective only. 
    This is a Hindi and English Dictionary.
    (Here dictionary is one) 
  • If two adjectives qualify the same person or thing, the article is used before the first adjective only. 
    He is a qualified and hard-working man.
  • If two nouns refer to different persons or things, the article must be used with each noun. 
    He is a doctor and a musician.
  • Article is omitted after the possessive case. 
    His brother’s car, Peter’s house. 
  • Article is omitted with professions. 
    Engineering is a useful career.
    He’ll probably go into medicine.
  • Article is omitted with years. 
    1947 was a wonderful year.
    Do you remember 2007
  • No article is used before name of games, sports. 
    I am playing cricket.
    He is fond of paying tennis.
  • No article is used before a noun when it is modified by either a possessive adjective or a demonstrative adjective. 
    Do you like my shirt? (Possessive adjective ‘my’)
    I like this pen. (Demonstrative adjective ‘this’) 
  • No article is used before a noun when it is preceded by a distributive adjective.
    Every student got a prize. (Distributive adjective ‘every’)
    Each student was present in the hall.  
    (Distributive adjective “each”)
  • No article is used before number + noun.

    The train arrives at platform 7.
    I want shoes in size 0. 
  • Definite article ‘the’ is omitted when speaking of the subject’s or speaker’s own town.

    We go to town sometimes to meet our mother.
    We went to town last year and remained there for a week. 
  • ‘Nature’ when means environment, do not use article before it. 
    If you interfere with nature you will suffer for it. 
  • No article is used before name of ‘season’. 
    In Spring we like to clean the house.
    She is planning to visit her parents in winter.
  • Definite article ‘the’ is not used before ‘time of day’. 
    We travel mostly during night.
    We’ll be there around midnight. 

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