25 Apr 2020

Articles (A, An & The) Rules with Examples in English Grammar

English Grammar >> Determiners >> Articles

Articles : A, An and The are called articles. Articles are words that define a noun as specific or unspecific.
image : English Grammar - Articles @ TeachMatters
Learn here all about articles - How to use articles? What are the uses of articles? What is zero article? Article quiz, examples for students and teachers.

Types of Articles


There are two types of articles :

(a) Indefinite articles – a, an

(b) Definite article – the

The Indefinite Article (A, An)


The indefinite article indicates that a noun refers to a general idea rather than a particular thing. It is used only with singular noun which is countable.

The indefinite article ‘a’ is used when it precedes a word that begins with a consonant sound; as,

A book, a rat, a table, a man, a European.

The indefinite article ‘an’ is used when it precedes a word that begins with a vowel sound; as,

An apple, an autobiography, an honest man.

Use of Indefinite Article

(a) Before a singular countable noun mentioned for the first time; as,

I see a bird on that tree.

(b) Before a singular countable noun as an example of the class of things or species; as,

A pine tree grows very tall.

(c) In the numerical sense of the word ‘one’; as,

He gave me a book.

(d) As ‘per’ in expressions of price, speed, etc.; as,

She sells milk fifty rupees a kilo.

He drives at sixty miles an hour.

(e) The names of professions and occupations take the indefinite article; as,

I am a teacher.

He grew up to be a politician.

(f) Before Mr./Mrs./Miss or surname to indicate a man/woman/boy/girl of that name; as,

A Mr. Kapoor came to see you when you were away. (a man called Mr. Kapoor)

(g) Use of ‘a’ before few and little;

A few means a small number.

A little means a little amount.

Note : The words ‘few’ and ‘little’ without article have an almost negative meaning.

I have little money.

But Mohan has a little money in his pocket.

(h) To attribute the qualities of a person (usually someone famous) to another person; as,

He is a Shakespeare.

She is a Lakshmi Bai.

The Definite Article (The)


The word ‘the’ is called the definite article. The definite article indicates that a noun refers to a particular thing. It can be used with singular, plural or uncountable nouns.

Use of Definite Article

(a) Before nouns of which there is only one or considered as one; as,

The earth, the sky, the weather, the North Pole, the sun, the moon etc.

(b) Before a noun mentioned a second time; as,

My son bought a cat. The cat is very cute.

(c) Before the superlative degree of adjectives; as,

He is the best teacher I have known.

(d) Before singular nouns and adjectives to represent a class of things; as,

The donkey is lazy.

The rich should not exploit the poor.

(e) Before the plural names of countries; as,

The United States of America, The West Indies

(f) Before nouns like hospital, school, temple etc. to denote secondary purpose; as,

Last Sunday, I went to the hospital to meet my friend.

(g) Before nouns like languages (English, French, Greek etc.) when they stand for people instead of language; as,

The English ruled India for a long time.

(h) Before the categories of following nouns; as,

Mountain ranges – The Himalayas, The Alps etc.

Rivers – The Ganges, The Thames etc.

Islands – The Andamans, The West Indies etc.

Holy Books – The Geeta, The Quran, The Bible etc.

Newspapers – The Times of India, The Tribune etc.

Magazines – The Reader’s Digest, The Competition Success Review etc.

Buildings – The Parliament, The White House

Trains, Ships, Planes – The Shatabadi Express, The Vikrant, The Indian Airlines etc.

Oceans – The Indian Ocean, The Pacific etc.

Omission of Articles (No Article / Zero Article)


Do not use any article -

(a) before the names of countries, person, months, days and specific places; as,

India, Bhagat Singh, June, Friday, Delhi.

(b) before the names of languages; as,

Hindi is a difficult language.

(c) before material nouns; as,

Gold is very costly.

(d) before abstract nouns; as,

(truth, honesty, love, absence, wisdom, poverty, knowledge etc.)

Truth prevails.

Knowledge is power.

Honesty is the best policy.

Wisdom is the gift of heaven.

(e) before plural nouns; as,

Cats like mice.

I love books.

(f) before the names of games and foods; as,

They play football.

I am late for dinner.

(g) before collective nouns; as,

Parliament is in session.

Society will not permit it.

(h) before the names of relatives; as,

(father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, cook, nurse etc.)

Father is coming today.

(i) before the names of diseases, festivals, seasons; as,

Cholera has broken out.

He is coming on Diwali.

(j) before common nouns (buildings) used for primary purpose; as,

(school, hospital, prison, market, temple, church, court etc.)

I am going to market.

The market is closed. (here market is not used for primary purpose.)

(k) before distributive/possessive adjective + noun; as,

I love every student.

This is my house.

(l) before proper noun + apostrophe’s + noun; as,

This is Ram’s house.

This is an old man’s house. (here is old man is a common noun)

(m) before no/not any + noun; as,

There is no boy in the class.

There is not any chance.

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