- _______ horse runs fast.
- I saw _______ boy running in _______ street.
- He can pay upon _______ flute very well.
- I saw _______ old man in _______ street.
- All _______ boys were present.
- He is ______ M. Phil.
- _______ moon is shining in _______ sky.
- Man is _______ rational being.
- I have read _______ Arabian Nights.
- Dawn is _______ English paper.
- _______ whole milk was spilled.
- He is _______ European boy.
- _______ higher you go, _______ cooler it is.
- We saw _______ snake in _______ grass.
- _______ handle of this jug is durable.
- He came here ______ hour ago.
- _______ topic we are discussing, is very interesting.
- She gave me _______ book.
- He read _______ book I gave him.
- _______ less you work, _______ less you gain.
- I have _______ bag of rice.
- ________ river is full of water.
- We rode ________ elephant.
- He hit himself with _______ stick.
- ________ rich old lady bought _______ beautiful necklace.
- a, the
- an, the
- The, the
- The, the
- a, the
- the, the
- a, a
Consider the following examples: Articles are words which define a noun as specific, or unspecific. Take a look at the following:The long day, This article will help you to make your cup of tea even more delicious.
.We’ve demonstrated that there was one day that was particularly long and that one cup of tea tasted great. A long day, A article will help you to make a cup of tea that tastes great.
English is divided into two types: indefinite and definite. Let’s now discuss them in greater detail.
DEFINITE AND INDEFINITE ARTICLES
In English there are three articles: a, an, and the. Articles are used before nouns or noun equivalents and are a type of adjective. The definite article (the) is used before a noun to indicate that the identity of the noun is known to the reader. The indefinite article (a, an) is used before a noun that is general or when its identity is not known. There are certain situations in which a noun takes no article.
As a guide, the following definitions and table summarize the basic use of articles. Continue reading for a more detailed explanation of the rules and for examples of how and when to apply them.
the (before a singular or plural noun)
a (before a singular noun beginning with a consonant sound)
an (before a singular noun beginning with a vowel sound)
Hello and welcome. In this lesson, I will teach you the seven rules that you need to know for using articles in English correctly. Articles are the words ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘the’. There is a final quiz at the end of the lesson for you to test your understanding. OK,
the first rule is about where to use ‘a’ and where to use ‘an’.
So rule number one is use ‘a’ before a consonant sound, and ‘an’ before a vowel sound.
So in all of these words – you see that they start with a consonant sound. Cat starts with /k/, dog starts with /d/, boy with /b/, girl with /g/, house with /h/ and tree with /t/. So we say ‘a cat’, ‘a dog’, ‘a boy’, ‘a girl’, ‘a house’, ‘a tree’ etc.
Notice that in natural speech, we don’t say ‘a’, we say ‘uh’ – like ‘a cat’. In this next set of words, you see that, they all start with a vowel sound – apple starts with /ae/, engineer starts with /e/, ice-cream with /ai/, old with /o/, umbrella with /uh/. So we say ‘an apple’, ‘an engineer’, ‘an ice-cream cone’, ‘an old woman’, ‘an umbrella’ and so on. In speech, we don’t say ‘an’, we say /ən/.
Let’s do a small exercise.
You see ten items on the screen. For each one, I want you to say if you would use ‘a’ or ‘an’ before it. Stop the video, think about it, then play the video again and check. OK here are the answers. Did you get them all right? I want to focus on items number seven to ten because these are a little tricky. Number seven is ‘a university’ because even though ‘university’ starts with the letter ‘u’ the first sound of the word is not a vowel sound. We don’t say /ooniversity/.
We say /yoo-nə- vər-si-ty/ so that first sound is a /y/ sound, which is a consonant sound, so we say ‘a university.’ Number eight is similar. The word ‘European’ starts with a /y/ sound, so ‘a European tour.’ In number nine, the spelling has an ‘h’ at the start but that ‘h’ is silent. We don’t say /hau-ər/, we say /au-ər/.
The first sound is an /au/ sound which is a vowel sound, so this is ‘an hour’. In the same way, in number ten, we say MA. ‘M’ starts with an /e/ sound which is again a vowel sound, so ‘an MA in English’.
OK let’s move on to rule number two: Use ‘a’ and ‘an’ ONLY with singular, countable nouns. We say that a noun is countable if we can count it – one, two, three, four etc. All of these words on the screen are countable. We can say one elephant, three cars, ten teachers, five hundred onions and so on.
Now if you talk about one person or thing, like one elephant or one car, then that’s called a singular noun and if you say ten teachers or five hundred onions, those are called plural nouns. Uncountable nouns cannot be counted in this way. Nouns like water, sugar, milk, love, anger, knowledge are some examples. If you think about it, you cannot say “I drank four waters” or “I want eight milks”.
To a person, you can say “I love you” but you can’t say “I have five loves for you” – that doesn’t make any sense. So these are all uncountable. Alright, so the rule is – you can only use ‘a’ and ‘an’ if you’re talking about one person or one thing. Let’s do another quick exercise. Here are ten items again. This time, you see ‘a’ or ‘an’ before the nouns, but some of these are wrong.
They should NOT have ‘a’ or ‘an’ before them. Stop the video, identify the mistakes, then play the video again and check. OK, here are the answers. Number three is wrong because ‘shirts’ is a plural and you cannot use ‘a’ or ‘an’ before a plural noun. Number five is wrong because ‘happiness’ is uncountable, so again, ‘a’ or ‘an’ cannot be used there.
The same goes for number six – water is uncountable. Number nine is wrong because ‘doctors’ is a plural – you can say ‘a doctor’ but not ‘a doctors’. And finally, in number ten, advice is an uncountable noun – so you cannot ask for ‘an advice’. Now a quick note here: the article ‘the’ can be used with all kinds of nouns – singular or plural countable nouns, and uncountable nouns. OK, so let’s now talk about how to choose between ‘a’ or ‘an’ and ‘the’.
Here’s rule number three: Use ‘a’ or ‘an’ to talk about a person or thing unknown to your listener. And use ‘the’ to talk about a person or thing known to your listener. For example, “My sister has two computers: a PC and a laptop. The PC is quite old but the laptop is brand new.” I say ‘a PC’ and ‘a laptop’ because that’s the first time I’m mentioning the two computers. That is, until this point, they are unknown to you, the listener.
But now, I can say “The PC is quite old but the laptop is brand new.” When I say ‘the PC’, you know which one I’m talking about: my sister’s PC. And the same thing goes for the laptop. So the PC and the laptop are now known to you. In English, ‘a’ and ‘an’ are called indefinite articles because they talk about something that the listener doesn’t know about. And ‘the’ is called the definite article because the listener knows what you are referring to.
Here’s another example: but now, can you fill in the gaps? It’s pretty simple: the first time I mention my tree, I’m going to say ‘a tree’: so, “I planted a tree in my garden last year.” Now you know about the tree, so I can say “The tree has now grown big.” Now this was easy because we were talking about one tree.
But what if I planted two, three or four trees? Well you know that we cannot use ‘a’ or ‘an’ with plurals. But we can mention the exact number. We can say “I planted four trees in my garden last year.” Or if I don’t want to say the number, I can say “I planted some trees.”
And then I can say “The trees have now grown big.” ‘The’ simply means that you know which trees I’m talking about. In both of these examples, we first introduce something with ‘a’ or ‘an’ or ‘some’ and then we say ‘the’ because the listener knows about them. But sometimes, you don’t need ‘a’ or ‘an’ because your listener will automatically understand what you are referring to.
For example, “Can you open the window?” If we’re sitting in a room, and if I say this to you, you will know which window I’m talking about. Or if I said, “I need to go back home. I think I left the stove on.” That means, the stove might still be burning, but which stove? Well, you can understand from the situation that I mean the stove in my house. But this isn’t always possible.
For example, if I say “The man is my boss.” You will ask – “Which man is your boss?” It’s confusing. But what about if I say “The man in the grey suit is my boss.” you know which one I’m talking about. So here, we mention a noun with ‘the’ – ‘the man’ – and then we give information to identify that noun – ‘in the grey suit’.
Here’s one final example: “Where’s the money I lent you last week?” So I start with ‘Where’s the money’ and then I say which money – ‘the money that I lent you last week’. OK, let’s now talk about rule number four: use ‘a’ or ‘an’ to talk about nonspecific things or people. What does that mean? Well, here’s an example: “Do you have a pencil?” If I ask you this question, then it probably means I need a pencil to write with.
Now I say ‘a pencil’ because I mean ‘any pencil’ – I don’t care about any one specific pencil. Compare this to the next sentence: “Do you have the pencil that Kathy gave you?” Here, I’m referring to a specific pencil. Here’s another example, “I want to buy an apartment” ‘An apartment’ means I haven’t decided which apartment.
Maybe I haven’t even started looking for one, but I just know that I want to buy some apartment. But look at this next sentence: “I want to buy the apartment that we visited.” So you know which apartment I’m talking about. And here’s one last example, “If you’re feeling sick, you should go and see a doctor.” Maybe you’re saying this to give advice to a friend who isn’t feeling very well.
Here, we don’t mean go and see a specific doctor – we mean any doctor. But let’s say your friend takes your advice and goes to a doctor. When you see your friend again, you might ask “What did the doctor say?” Why are we saying ‘the doctor’? Because we mean that specific doctor who the friend visited. So, notice again that we use ‘a’ or ‘an’ when we’re talking about a person or thing in general, and not a specific person or thing (for that, we use ‘the’).
Alright, let’s move on to rule number five now: use ‘a’ or ‘an’ to mention the category or type of a person or thing. To understand this, I have a small exercise for you. All of these sentences mention a category of type of a person or thing. But they’re missing the articles.
I want you to put ‘a’ or ‘an’ in the correct place in each of these sentences. Stop the video, think about your answers, then play the video again and check. OK, in number one – “My car is a 2011 Ford Fusion.” So here, I mention ‘my car’ and then I tell you the model of the car – ‘2011 Ford Fusion’ – that is basically the type of car that it is.
So we use ‘a’ before it. Number two is “You can use your TV as a laptop monitor.” Here, the noun phrase ‘laptop monitor’ says what type of thing your TV can be used as. In number three, “Jim’s daughter is an intelligent girl.”
We say what type of girl she is – ‘an intelligent girl’. Number four is “I’d like to become a member of your library.” After the verb ‘become’ you see that I’m saying what category I want to belong to – ‘member of the library’.
For this reason, ‘a member’. We talk about professions in the same way: “I’m a teacher.” (NOT “I’m teacher”). A person’s profession says what category they belong to, or what type of person they are. So, you need to have ‘a’ or ‘an’ before the profession. Similarly, “He worked as a cashier for two years.” So to mention a type or category, use ‘a’ or ‘an’. Alright, let’s now turn to rule number six.
This rule is about how to make generalizations. That is, how to talk generally about a whole group or class of people or things. So rule number six is generalize with plurals or uncountable nouns with no article. On the screen, there are six sentences. I’d like you to find all the plural and uncountable nouns.
Stop the video, do the exercise, then play the video again and check. OK, in number one, there are two plurals: ‘teachers’ and ‘students’. Here, we are not talking about any one teacher or one student in particular.
We’re saying that all teachers should be friendly to all students. In number two, ‘dolphins’ is a plural noun. We’re using it to say, generally, that all dolphins are intelligent. In number three, ‘horror movies’ is what I’m generalizing about.
I’m saying I hate all horror movies – not a particular one. In sentence number four, ‘coffee’ is an uncountable noun, and we use no article before it because, again, we want to ask if Pablo likes coffee in general. Number five has two uncountable nouns in ‘exercise’ and ‘health’. We don’t use any articles before them because this is a general statement of fact or truth.
And finally, number six is the same kind of sentence – it also has two uncountable nouns – ‘education’ and ‘life’. Now this is the common way of generalizing. But there’s one another way of doing it. With countable nouns, you can generalize by using ‘a’ or ‘an’ with a singular countable noun to mean every single one – that is every member of a group.
For example: “A teacher should be friendly to his or her students.” It has the roughly same meaning as when we say ‘teachers’ but it’s slightly different because it’s like saying “Every teacher should be friendly to his or her students.” Here’s one more example: “The dolphin is a very intelligent animal.” Again, same meaning as saying “Dolphins” but we mean ‘every dolphin’.
So remember that this form – generalizing with ‘a’, ‘an’ or ‘the’ can only be used with singular countable nouns AND when we mean ‘every single one’. So I cannot say “I don’t enjoy watching a horror movie or the horror movie.”
Here, only the plural form is possible. It’s the same thing with all the other sentences. OK, let’s now talk about rule number seven: and that is where to use NO article. This is very important and this is one place where mistakes are very common because there are many situations where you should NOT use an article.
In a separate lesson we will focus on all of these situations but here’s a short list. We use NO article in front of proper nouns – that is names of people or places. We don’t say ‘a Steve’, ‘the Priya’ etc. We just say their names without ‘the’. It’s the same thing for places.
However, some place names have ‘the’ as part of the name. Such as the United States, the United Kingdom and so on. With these, of course, you must use ‘the’. We also usually use no article with names of games and languages. Then there are many fixed expressions that have no article – you have to learn these through experience and practice to use them correctly.
You see some of these on the screen. It’s a good idea for you to memorize as many of these as possible. Alright, if you’re ready, now it’s time for a quiz to see if you can use articles correctly. On the screen, you see some sentences with blanks in them. In each blank, I want you to put ‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’ or ‘no article’. That symbol – a zero with a line through it is just to say ‘no article’.
OK, stop the video, try the exercise, then play the video and check. OK, here are the answers. You can stop the video and check them with your answers if you like. In the comments section, let me know how you many got correct.
If you’re not sure about any of these, feel free to ask me in the comments and I will help you out. Alright, I hope you enjoyed this lesson.