Definite and Indefinite Articles (A, An, The) Definition, Examples & Rules

‘A’, ‘An’, and ‘The’ are called articles. They are really demonstrative. It means they are adjectives used to point to something.

Definite and Indefinite Articles

There are two kinds of articles

  • Indefinite Articles
  • Definite Article

Indefinite Articles

“A” and “An”are called indefinite articles because they only generalize a noun; as, a student; that means any student.

Use of “a” and “an”

  • This is a useful book.
  • She is sitting under an umbrella.

The choice between “a” and “an” is determined by a sound of a singular countable noun.

“A” is used before a word beginning with a consonant sound. It is used with the word which gives the voice of consonant. For example, a girl, a horse, a useful book.

“An” is used before a word beginning with a vowel sound; for example, an egg, an orange, an hour, an honest man, etc.

In some cases, an indefinite article gives sense of “one” or “any”.

For example,

  • I saw a man in the street.

It is used to make a common noun of a proper noun; as,

  • He is a newton of our country.

Definite Article

Uses of “The”

“The” is used when a singular noun is used to represent a class or group of animals.

  • The fox is a clever animal.
  • The horse is a useful animal.

It is used with the names of rivers, seas, oceans, group of islands and mountain range; as,

  • The Atlantic
  • The Ravi
  • The Arabian Sea
  • The West Indies
  • The Netherlands
  • The Himalayas

It is used before the names of certain book newspapers, journals; as The Holy Quran is our sacred book.

The Nation is a famous newspaper.

It is used before superlatives and first, second and only etc, used as adjectives or pronouns. For example,

  • The first week
  • The best day
  • The only way

She is the most beautiful girl in the class.

It is used with historical events.

The partition of India is a historical event.

It is used with names of unique objects; as,

the earth, the sea, the sky.

It is used before a noun mentioned second time; as,

I saw a man in the street, the man was carrying a sack.

We use it before an adverb with comparatives.

  • The more we get, the more we desire.
  • The higher we go, the cooler it is.

The omission of the article

1 – “A” and “An” are not used before the plural nouns.

2 – Uncountable nouns are always singular but we do not use “a” or “an” with them. These nouns are often preceded by some, any, no, a little, etc. or by nouns such as bit, piece, slice. See these examples

  • I don’t want (any) advice.
  • I don’t need a piece of advice.

3 – We do not use “a” or “an” before the names of meals except when these are preceded by an adjective.

For example,

We have breakfast at 8 a.m.

4 – “The” is not used before proper nouns, material nouns, and abstract nouns; as,

  • Afzal will go to Lahore tomorrow.
  • Gold is a precious metal.
  • Honesty is the best policy.

5 – “The” is not used before names of languages and skills.

  • She can speak Arabic frequently.
  • He is weak in French.
  • He is a doctor by profession.
Definite and Indefinite Articles (A, An, The)
Definite and Indefinite Articles (A, An, The)

Read also: 27 Figures of Speech with Examples

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