‘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
“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”
“A” is used before a word that begins with a consonant sound, but “an” is generally used before a word that begins with a vowel sound.
- I am going to a party this evening. (Notice that the first letter of party begins with a consonant sound.)
- An umbrella is useful in rainy weather. (Notice that the first letter of umbrella begins with a vowel sound.)
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”.
- 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.
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.
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.
Read also: 27 Figures of Speech with Examples