A, AN, THE: Articles

Articles are the main focus of these English Lessons. ‘A’ and ‘an’ are both known as the indefinite article. They are the same, but ‘an’ is used with nouns/adjectives which have a vowel sound. ‘The’ is known as the definite article and in many sentences, no article is used before the noun. And so we have three options to choose from, whenever we use a noun (no article, indefinite article, definite article). This means that using nouns can be rather complex in English.  We must decide if we mean a definite noun (a specific one which we have in  mind), an indefinite noun (it doesn’t matter which one, and so this is non specific) or no article (for indefinite uncountable nouns, where ‘a’ is impossible). For a more complete explanation of how we use articles, please watch the following lesson

And please test your skills with this quiz. Remember!

Use A / AN
The first time something is mentioned
When it doesn’t matter which one, or you don’t know which one
When the object is singular and countable
With professions

When there is only one
When we already know which one
With mountain ranges
With groups of islands
With rivers, seas, oceans, and groups of lakes
With groups of people (nations)
With superlatives
With inventions

With indefinite plural or uncountable nouns
With names
With towns and cities
With countries
With continents
With 1 Lake / 1 Mountain
With planets (Note these exceptions! the Earth, the Sun and the Moon too)


In the following lesson we look at other uses of ‘the’ (such as using ‘the’ to distinguish one class from other classes) and we also focus on some time expressions which use ‘a’ and ‘the’. Some of these can be counter intuitive.

The following lesson looks at how we use articles to define (the) and to describe (a/an).

In my town, there is a population of 150 000 (describe)
The population of my town is 150 000 (define)

In my kitchen there is an apple on the table. (describe)
The apple on the table is mine. (define)

In London, there are a number of interesting places. (describe)
The number of interesting places in London is increasing. (define)

Please try my other pages for more lessons and quizzes