Using Articles: Using Articles Indefinite /a/ and /an/
vs. Definite /the/ The Indefinite Article: The Indefinite Article We use a before count nouns beginning in consonant sounds.
You can buy a car if you want.
Or you could take a bus.
The word a basically means one of many.
It means no item in particular, just one in general.
Choosing A or An: Choosing A or An 1. ___ card game
2. ___ idiot
3. ___ good job
4. ___ rotten egg
5. ___ used fork
6. ___ uncle
7. ___ hurricane
8. ___ internet ad
9. ___ hair
10. ___ artichoke
11. ___ horrible it
12. ___ opera
13. ___ fine opera
14. ___ television
15. ___ earthquake
A Generalizes: A Generalizes Use a or an before a singular noun, or one modified by an adjective.
A storm is an unfortunate event.
Use it before saying someone belongs to a profession, nation, or religion.
Kabir is a Muslim; Ana is a Christian. The Definite Article: The Definite Article Use the before a noun that refers to a specific member of a group.
The professor likes to present lessons.
The is not used with uncountable nouns referring to something in a general sense.
Gas [not the gas] is a volatile substance. The Specifies: The Specifies The is used with uncountable nouns that are made specific by a limiting modifying phrase or clause.
The stuff on the wall is not pretty.
The can refer to something unique.
The wind today is from the north.
Using A/An, The, and Some: Using A/An, The, and Some Countable vs. Non-Countable: Countable vs. Non-Countable A and An are used when a noun can be counted.
I saw a dog.
The can be used when a noun is not countable.
I dove into the water. First and Later Mention: First and Later Mention A or An can be used the first time a noun is mentioned in a passage.
I saw a large and colorful flag.
The should be used for subsequent mentions of the noun.
The colors of the flag were red, white, and blue. General or Specific: General or Specific A, an, and the can all be used to indicate that a noun refers to the whole class:
A [any] tiger is a dangerous animal.
The tiger [as a type] is a dangerous animal.
The difference between the indefinite a and the generic a is that the former means any one member of a class while the latter means all of the members of a class. Indefinite A Generic The: Indefinite A Generic The Omitting articles for generic sense:
No article with a plural noun:
Tigers are dangerous animals.
No article with a non-countable noun:
Anger is a destructive emotion. No Articles with these Nouns: No Articles with these Nouns Names of languages and nationalities
Names of sports
Names of academic subjects
This presentation is adapted from Adam Powell’s PowerPoint which is based on information from the OWL at Perdue University.