Three words ‘a’ ‘an’ and ‘the’ are called articles.
Articles are of two types:
- Indefinite Articles
- Definite articles
- Indefinite Articles – ‘A’ and ‘An’ are weakened form of one and are called Indefinite Articles as they do not point out to any particular person or thing.
- Definite article – ‘The’ is called the definite article because it points out some definite or particular person or thing.
Use of Indefinite articles ‘A’ and ‘An’:
Use of indefinite article ‘A’;
- Before a word beginning with a consonant sound:
A boy, a pen
- Before a word beginning with the sound ‘yu’
A university, a union, a unicorn, a usage, a European, a unicorn
- Before a word beginning with the sound ‘wu’
A one-pound note, a one-eyed monster
- Sounded ‘h’ words
A horse, a hero, a holiday
Uses of ‘An’:
- Before words beginning with a vowel sound
An orange, an umbrella, an eagle, an ass
- Before words beginning with a silent ‘h’
An honest man, an hour, an heir
- Before words beginning with consonant letters but having vowel sound
An M.P, an M.A, an M.L.A, an S.P, an S.D.O, an L.L.B, an F.R.C.S, an S.O.S, an N.G.O, an L.C.D.
The letters (F.L.M.N.S) are pronounced with a vowel sound in some words.
- Before a singular countable noun.
I saw a girl skipping in the park.
- Before a single countable noun which stands for a group.
A woman has to work to live. A dog needs care.
- In certain expressions of speed ratio and price.
A dozen oranges. A lot of people. A great deal of hardwork ensures success.
- In expressions of speed ratio price.
Rupees 50 a kilo. Twice a day. Twenty kilometres a litre.
Definite Article ‘The’
We use ‘the’ when we mean a particular person or thing.
Use of definite article ‘The’
a) When we speak of a person or thing for the second time.
Eg. Take a chair.
Take the chair near the window
b) When it is very clear what we are speaking about, we use the.
Eg. The moon is shining in the sky.
The telephone is ringing.
The door of the study room is locked.
c) We use the with names of:
- rivers, seas, oceans, canals, mountain ranges, group of islands.
The Ganga, the Indian ocean, the Himalayas, the Maldivies.
- Deserts, forests,
The Thar, the Kalahari, the Sundarbans, the Sherwood Forest
- Well known buildings, holy books, news papers.
The Taj Mahal, the Gita, the Telegraph, The Times
- Trains , ships, aeroplanes.
The Orient Express, the Titanic, the British Airways
- Musical instruments
The violin, the guitar, the piano
- Some countries which suggests accumulation of units.
The U.S.A , the U.K, the U.A.E. the Punjab, the Sudan
- With superlatives.
The most beautiful, the biggest
- With ordinals.
The first, the last
- With directions
The East, the North, the South, the West
- Adjectives to denote the whole class.
The rich, the poor.
- Before names of races, groups, and communities.
The Hindus, the Chinese, the English
- Before a surname to refer to a family in plural.
The Smiths, the Gandhis
- Before a known person or thing.
The flower looks beautiful. Pass the sugar please.
- Before the names consisting of noun + of + noun.
The Bay of Bengal, the Bay of Naples.
- Before a noun made definite with a phrase/clause.
The ship of the desert, The girl in the room.
- Before parallel comparatives.
The more, the merrier. The higher you go the cooler it gets.
- To make a proper noun common.
John is the Einstein of his class.
Mumbai is the New York of the East.
Before a noun to make emphasis.
This is the time to act. He is the authority to do so.
Omission of the article
We don’t use the with
- Proper nouns,
- Nouns that name materials,
- Nouns that name abstract qualities.
[ unless they have been made particular. ]
We need water for drinking.
The water we drink must be pure.
Kashmir is famous for its beauty.
The beauty of Kashmir is very famous.