Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Articles | English Grammar

What is Article?

Articles can be taken as one of the 'Determiners' or a subclass of the Determiners which determines nouns. They are also known as Demonstrative Adjectives. Articles are words that identify a noun as being specific or unspecific.

It is often taken to be a separate part of speech also. There are two articles in English, the definite article the (the book) and the indefinite article a (a book) or an (an eye)

Sometimes nouns require no article at all. This is called the 'zero a1ticle' (book, eyes). The articles are a subclass of the determiners. 

Please note that it is pronunciation, not the spelling, of the word that determines the choice of indefinite article: (Leech, G., Svartvik, J., 2009).

What is Determiner? 

Detenniners are words placed in front of nouns to clarify what the noun refers to. It is used to indicate the exactness of a noun.

Determiners are the words that specify the range of reference of a noun e.g by taking it definitely (the book), indefinite (a book), or by indicating quantity (many books).

Kinds of Articles:

ln English language, there are a to total of three articles. (A, An, and The). These three articles are divided into two types.

1. Definite: The (is used to refer any particular person, place, or thing.)

2. Indefinite: A & An (does not refer to particular noun)

1. Indefinite Articles 

'A' and 'An' are the two indefinite a1ticles. 'A' or 'An' means 'one' or 'anyone' 

When the countable noun is one/ singular in nu1n.ber, it takes 'a' or 'an' as an article (depending on its first letter and sound). 

Indefinite articles (a/ an) are used with several countable nouns in different conditions. 

What is Noun? 

Noun is a name given to any person, place, thing, animal, thought/ idea, or emotion. Nouns are divided into certain types. 

  • Common
  • Proper
  • Collective
  • Concrete
  • Abstract
  • Countable
  • Uncountable
  • Material

Articles and Nouns 

Mostly articles are used only with countable nouns which can be counted in number. Rest nouns take other determiners. 


  • a book ✓ but a water X 
  • a boy ✓ but a sugar X 
  • a computer ✓ but an air X 
  • a teacher ✓ but a teaching X 

The Selection of Articles (a/ an) 

  • Indefnite articles 'a' or 'an' are not used arbitrarily.
  • There are definite rules to use these indefinite articles and these rules are strictly followed while speaking or writing English.
  • It is important to note that if articles are not used appropriately, the meaning may change or be misunderstood.
  • Therefore, it is 1nust to understand and follow these rules to learn correct English.

Rules for "a and an"

Rule 1

'a' is used before a word (or a countable noun) beginning with a consonant sound. 


  • a boy 
  • a man 
  • a girl 
  • a table 
  • a young man 

Rule 2 

'an' is used with a word beginning with a vowel sound. 


  • an apple 
  • an elephant, an egg, 
  • an ink-pot, an idiot 
  • an orange, an orphan, 
  • an umbrella 

Rule 3

'an' is used before a word beginning with a consonant letter but a vowel sound. 


  • an honest man 
  • an hour 
  • an honorable guest 
  • an heir

Rule 4 

'a' is used before a word beginning with a vowel letter but a consonant sound. 


  • a university
  • a European 
  • a union

Rule 5 

Abbreviations that begin with consonant letters but their pronunciation beings with vowel take 'an' article which includes...


  • an HOD
  • an MA
  • an ST
  • an MLA
  • an M.Sc./MBBS
  • an M.Com. / M. Phil.

Rule 6

A word beginning with 'vowel' letter but 

'consonant' sound /w/ takes 'a' as an article. 


  • a one rupee note 
  • a one eyed 1nan 
  • a one dollar note 
  • a one way ticket 
  • a one legged man 

Rule 7

If the noun is modified by an adjective, the choice between a and an, depends on the initial sound of the adjective that immediately follows the article: 


  • a broken egg
  • an unusual problem
  • a European country

Rule 8 

In English, the indefinite articles 'a' or 'an' are used to indicate membership in a group. 


  • I am a teacher. (I am a member of a large group known as teachers.) 
  • Brian is an Irishman. (Brian is a member of the people known as Irish.)

Rule 9

Indefinite articles 'a' and 'an' are used in the sense of one of many. 


  • I met a friend. (means one of certain friends) 
  • I read a novel. (means one of certain novels)

Rule 10

'a' or 'an' is used to show the whole class in the sense of' all' or 'any' 


  • A student should be obedient. (any student/ all students) 
  • A doctor must love his patient. (any doctor/ all doctors)

Rule 11

'a' is used with words like 'little' and 'few' 


  • a little milk (uncountable noun) 
  • a few students (countable noun)

Rule 12 

'a' or 'an' is used in the sense of 'every'


  • 2,000 a month (means 2,000 every month)
  • 10 rupees a dozen 
  • 5 rupees a kilo 
  • 5 ti1nes a year 
  • 80 km an hour 

Rule 13 

'a' or 'an' is used in an exclamatory sentence before an adjective. 


  • What a beautiful flower! 
  • What a pretty girl! 
  • What a shameful act! 
  • What a hot day! 
  • What an idea sir ji! 

Rule 14 

Indefinite article 'a' is commonly used with certain words. 

Those are as below.


  • a couple 
  • a dozen 
  • half a dozen 
  • a quarter 
  • a thousand 
  • a 1nillion 
  • a lot of 
  • a great deal of 
  • a great number of 

Rule 15 

Indefinite 'a' or 'an' article is used to convert proper noun into a common noun. 


  • He is a Gandhi. (a great political leader) 
  • She is a Mother Teresa. (a great social worker)
  • He is an Amitabh Bachchan. (a famous actor) 

2. The definite article

The definite article is "the," and it specifies a noun to a specific entity. For instance, a friend might question, "Will you attend the party this weekend?" This usage informs you that the friend refers to a particular known party. "The" can apply to both singular and plural nouns, as well as uncountable ones.

Example: I visited the Eiffel Tower last summer and was captivated by the stunning views from its observation deck. The experience of seeing the iconic landmark illuminated at night was truly unforgettable.

Omission of articles

Sometimes, articles are omitted altogether before certain nouns and it is called a “zero article.” Often, the article is omitted before a noun that refers to an abstract idea. For examples,

Incorrect: Let’s go out for a dinner tonight.

Correct: Let’s go out for dinner tonight.

Incorrect: The creativity is a valuable quality in children.

Correct: Creativity is a valuable quality in children.

Tip: The words for many languages and nationalities are not preceded by an article. 

Incorrect: I studied the French in high school for four years.

Correct: I studied French in high school for four years.

Tip: Sports and academic subjects do not require articles. 

Incorrect: I like to play the baseball.

Correct: I like to play baseball.

Incorrect: My sister was always good at the math.

Correct: My sister was always good at math.


1. Almas Juneja, Vaseern Qureshi. "Active English." New Delhi: Macmillan Publishers India Ltd, 2013. 30. 2.

2.  Geoffrey Leech, Jan Svartvik. "A Communicative  Granimar o English." South Asia: Pearson Education Ltd., 2009. 249-250, 280-281. 

3. Murthy, Jayanthi Dakshina. Contemporary English Granima,: New Delhi: Book Palace, 2013.

4. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/articles/

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