English Articles - A An The
Articles in English are complicated, and there are many rules for their use. However, learning a few general rules about the use of the articles is helpful; the logic of these rules can be transferred to most uses of the article. In addition to learning the rules, you can gain a good working use of the articles through reading and listening. Remember that the article is not stressed, so don't listen for its full value! Also, ask native speakers to help you when you don't know whether or not to use the article. See A AN THE Worksheets
Table of Articles
|Singular|| a / an||the|
- a before consonants (a book)
an before vowels (an exam)
- Pronunciation is what matters.
an hour ('h' is silent and it's pronounced: an our)
- Temporary illnesses: (I have a headache, a cold, a fever, a backache)
- "The" with superlative forms (He is the smartest kid I have seen.)
Rules of Articles
Articles Rule 1: With singular count nouns, use 'a' if indefinite or "the" if definite.
My daughter wants to buy a
dog this weekend. (Indefinite-It could be any dog)
in the backyard is very cute.(Definite- The one in the backyard)
1. He requested a
puppy for his birthday.
2. He wanted the
puppy he played with at the pet shop.
3. She ordered a
hamburger without onions.
4. Did you drink the
coke I just ordered?
Articles Rule 2: With plural count nouns use either "the" or nothing, never 'a'.
1.Come and look at the
2.Children are always curious. (indefinite)
3.She loves flowers. (indefinite)
flowers in her garden are beautiful. (definite)
5.Do you like reading grammar rules?
6.Do you like reading the
grammar rules on this page?
Articles Rule 3: With non-count nouns, use either "the" or nothing.
He has experience. (if indefinite or mentioned for the first time)
He has the experience necessary for the
job. (if definite or mentioned before)
doctor prescribed had unpleasant side effects.
2.Writing in a second language is especially challenging.
3.Have you studied the
history of South Africa?
4.History reminds us that events repeat themselves.
Articles Rule 4: If a plural or non-count noun is followed by [of + noun], "the" is preferred.
languages of Asia are unrelated to English.
wines of France are famous.
birds of North America are beautiful.
4.X Museum of Art is having X exhibit of the
paintings of Picasso.
Special Rules for Articles
1. Adjectives as Nouns
When referring to a group of people by use of an adjective rather than a noun, use "the".
2. Names of Countries
|the elderly||the disabled||the unemployed|
|the rich||the sick||the needy|
|the homeless||the young
Some countries are preceded by "the", usually if the name is plural, contains an adjective, or includes "of".
3. Cities and Streets use nothing
|The United States||The Soviet Union
||The Republic of Congo |
4. Rivers, Oceans, Seas, Groups of Mountains & Islands use "the"
||Fifth Avenue ||San Francisco|
|Highway 5||London||Kennedy blvd.
Cardinal numbers(1,2,3) use nothing
|the Amazon||the Atlantic ||the Mediterranean |
|the Cascades||the Hawaiian Islands||the Bahamas|
Ordinal numbers (1st,2nd,3rd) use "the"
|World War 2
||Page 7 ||Chapter 1 |
| Mission 1 || Paragraph 5|| Channel 6 |
6. Titles of People
|The Second World War
||the seventh page||the first chapter |
| the first mission || the fifth paragraph
|| the sixth channel |
When a title is given with a name, use nothing
||Queen Mary ||Professor Scott |
When a title is used without a name, use "the"
||the queen ||the professor |
When a school has "of" in its title, use "the"
|The University of Arizona||The University of London||Chapter 2 |
When a school does not have "of" in its title, use nothing
8. Location versus Activity
|Lincoln High School
||Arizona State University ||Liverpool John Moores University |
When referring to an activity
, use nothing
I am going to school now.(activity-study)
He is always on time for class. (activity-learn)
When referring to the location
, use "the"
The meeting is at the school. (location-campus)
They are remodeling the movie theater. (location-building)
The new student had trouble finding the class. (location-classroom)
9. When the object is the only one that exists, use "the"
10. When you use expressions that identify part of a larger group, use "the"
|the earth||the human race||the world |
| the moon || the sun|| the universe |
-One of the students
-None of the students
-Both of the students
-All of the students