Indefinite and Definite Articles
The words a, an, and the are special adjectives called articles.
Indefinite Articles—a, an
an—used before singular count nouns beginning with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) or vowel sound:
- an apple, an elephant, an issue, an orange
a—used before singular count nouns beginning with consonants (other than a, e, i, o, u):
- a stamp, a desk, a TV, a cup, a book
Can be used before singular and plural, count and non-count nouns
1. Indefinite Article (a, an)
Used before singular nouns that are unspecified:
Used before number collectives and some numbers:
Used before a singular noun followed by a restrictive modifier:
- a girl who was wearing a yellow hat
Used with nouns to form adverbial phrases of quantity, amount, or degree:
2. Definite Article (the)
Used to indicate a noun that is definite or has been previously specified in the context:
- Please close the door.
- I like the clothes you gave me.
Used to indicate a noun that is unique:
- Praise the Lord!
- The Columbia River is near here.
Used to designate a natural phenomenon:
- The nights get shorter in the summer.
- The wind is blowing so hard.
Used to refer to a time period:
- I was very naïve in the past.
- This song was very popular in the 1980s.
Used to indicate all the members of a family:
- I invited the Bakers for dinner.
- This medicine was invented by the Smiths.
Articles with countable and uncountable nouns
Countable nouns are the names of separate people or objects which we can count. Uncountable nouns are the names of materials, liquids and other things which we do not see as separate objects.
We can use the indefinite article (a/an) with singular countable nouns. A plural countable noun cannot be used with indefinite articles. Countable nouns (both singular and plural) can also be used with numbers.
- A cat
- Two cats
- A boy
- Two boys
We cannot use the indefinite article or numbers with uncountable nouns.
- Water (NOT a water) (NOT two waters)
- Weather (NOT a weather) (NOT two weathers)
A singular countable noun usually has an article or other determiner with it. We say, the cat, my cat or this cat, but not justcat. Plural and uncountable nouns can be used with or without an article or other determiner.
Many nouns which are normally uncountable are treated as countable in some cases.
- Have you got a good shampoo? (Although shampoo is an uncountable noun, it is treated as countable to express the meaning of ‘a type of’.)
- Three coffees, please. (= three cups of coffees)
Some nouns that are countable in other languages are uncountable in English. Examples are: information, advice, news, scenery, accommodation etc.
Choose the correct article in each sentence.
1)Did you bring (a, an, the) umbrella?
2)Are you looking for (a, an, the) shampoo?
3)I checked (a, an, the) mailbox again.
4)Can I have (a, an, the) spoon please?
5)I was born into (a, an, the) poor family.
6)She will come back in (a, an, the) hour.
7)Have you been to (a, an, the) Space Needle Tower in Seattle?
8)I would love to talk to one of (a, an, the) managers.
9)What (a, an, the) amazing view!
10)The helicopter landed on (a, an, the) roof of a building.
Put a, an or the in the gaps.
1. Our department always meets on last Friday of every month.
2. This month it falls on 31st.
3. I have already reserved conference room on the fifth floor.
4. There are three conference rooms on that floor, but we like one overlooking the gardens.
5. It is very popular room.
6. Last month person from accounting had already reserved it when I called.
7. That was disappointment, but we managed to get room across hall from it.
8. During our meetings one member of group usually gives presentation.
9. Last month Janet told us about advantages of employee referral program.
10. This month it is my turn to speak and I have already thought of interesting topic for group
7. a, the ,the
8. the, a
9. the, an
10. an, the