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In this class we will learn the English articles; A, AN and THE.

There are two kinds of articles in English, indefinite (A and AN) and definite (THE). Let take a look at the uses of the indefinite articles first.

Indefinite Articles; A and AN

We use A and AN before nouns when talking about something that is non-specific. Another way to explain this is when talking about something that hasn’t been mentioned before or something that is unknown to the other person.

Take a look at the following example:

I am going to talk to AN English teacher

In this sentence the person is saying that they are going to talk to an English teacher – but because the article AN has been used we know that they mean ANY English teacher. Any English teacher will do, it doesn’t have to be their normal English teacher.

I saw A red Ferrari this morning.

In this sentence we are not talking about a particular Ferrari that has be discussed or seen before, because the article A was used.

When to use A and An?

In English we use A before a singular noun when the first SOUND of the noun is a consonant sound: a house, a shop, a bike, a boy and a cat.

We use AN before a singular noun when the first SOUND of the noun is a vowel sound: an apple, an elephant, an icon, an octopus.

It is the pronunciation of the noun that matters here NOT the first letter of the noun. We would say AN hour because the H is silent in the pronunciation.

Further rules when using A and AN

When talking about professions or parts of groups we use A or AN:

  • I am a teacher
  • He is a plumber
  • She is a race car driver

Definite Article; THE

We use the definite article, THE before a noun when talking about something specific. If it has been mentioned before and is known to the person you are talking to. The opposite of the indefinite article.

Take a look at the following examples:

I am going to take THE dog for a walk

This sentence tells us that the dogs owner is talking THE dog for a walk. If the indefinite article was used; I am going to take A dog for a walk – this could mean ANY dog, not his own.

THE classroom is open, you can enter

This sentence tells us that the normal classroom, the one that you already know is open. If A was used in the sentence, the person could be talking about any classroom in the school.

Check your understanding with this short test

Can I have ____________ apple please?

What is __________ colour of your car?

I will meet you for lunch in ________ hour

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