A/An And The



In English there are three articles: a, an, & the. Articles are used before nouns or noun equivalents & are a type of adjective. The definite article (the) is used before a noun khổng lồ indicate that the identity of the noun is known to the reader. The indefinite article (a, an) is used before a noun that is general or when its identity is not known. There are certain situations in which a noun takes no article.

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As a guide, the following definitions and table summarize the basic use of articles. Continue reading for a more detailed explanation of the rules and for examples of how và when lớn apply them.

Definite article

the (before a singular or plural noun)

Indefinite article

a (before a singular noun beginning with a consonant sound)an (before a singular noun beginning with a vowel sound)

Count nouns - refers to items that can be counted và are either singular or plural

Non-count nouns - refers lớn items that are not counted & are always singular

Rule #1Specific identity not knowna, an(no article)
Rule #2Specific identity knownthethe
Rule #3All things or things in general(no article)(no article)

For the purposes of understanding how articles are used, it is important lớn know that nouns can be either count (can be counted) or noncount (indefinite in quantity và cannot be counted). In addition, count nouns are either singular (one) or plural (more than one). Noncount nouns are always in singular form.

For example, if we are speaking of water that has been spilled on the table, there can be one drop (singular) or two or more drops (plural) of water on the table. The word drop in this example is a count noun because we can count the number of drops. Therefore, according to the rules applying to count nouns, the word drop would use the articles a or the.

However, if we are speaking of water in general spilled on the table, it would not be appropriate to lớn count one water or two waters -- there would simply be water on the table. Water is a noncount noun. Therefore, according lớn the rules applying lớn noncount nouns, the word water would use no article or the, but not a.

Following are the three specific rules which explain the use of definite and indefinite articles.

Rule #1 - Specific identity not known:Use the indefinite article a or an only with a singular count noun whose specific identity is not known to the reader.Use a before nouns that begin with a consonant sound, and use an before nouns that begin with a vowel sound.

Use the article a or an to indicate any non-specified member of a group or category.

I think an animal is in the garageThat man is a scoundrel.We are looking for an apartment.

Use the article a or an lớn indicate one in number (as opposed khổng lồ more than one).

I own a cát & two dogs.

Use the article a before a consonant sound, & use an before a vowel sound.

a boy, an apple

◊ Sometimes an adjective comes between the article và noun:

an unhappy boy, a red apple

The plural khung of a or an is some.Use some lớn indicate an unspecified, limited amount (but more than one).

an apple, some apples

Rule #2 - Specific identity known:Use the definite article the with any noun (whether singular or plural, count or noncount) when the specific identity of the noun is known khổng lồ the reader, as in the following situations:

Use the article the when a particular noun has already been mentioned previously.

I ate an táo khuyết yesterday.The táo Apple was juicy và delicious.

Use the article the when an adjective, phrase, or clause describing the noun clarifies or restricts its identity.

The boy sitting next to me raised his h&.Thank you for the advice you gave sầu me.

Use the article the when the noun refers lớn something or someone that is unique.

the theory of relativitythe 2003 federal budget

Rule #3 - All things or things in general:Use no article with plural count nouns or any noncount nouns used to lớn mean all or in general.

Trees are beautiful in the fall. (All trees are beautiful in the fall.)He was asking for advice. (He was asking for advice in general.)I bởi vì not lượt thích coffee.

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(I bởi vì not like all coffee in general.)

Additional Information Regarding the Use of Articles

When indicating an unspecified, limited amount of a count or noncount noun, use some.

My cousin was seeking some advice from a counselor (not advice in general or advice about everything, but a limited amount of advice).

I would love some coffee right now (not coffee in general, but a limited amount of coffee).

We might get rain tomorrow.Some rain would be good for the crops (a certain amount of rain, as opposed khổng lồ rain in general).

There are some drops of water on the table (a limited number, but more than one drop).

Noncount nouns are those which usually cannot be counted. Following are some common examples:

Certain food và drink items: babé, beef, bread, broccoli, jualkaosmuslim.comr, cabbage, candy, cauliflower, celery, cereal, cheese, chicken, chocolate, coffee, corn, cream, fish, flour, fruit, ice cream, lettuce, meat, milk, oil, pasta, rice, salt, spinach, sugar, tea, water, wine, yogurt

Certain nonfood substances: air, cement, coal, dirt, gasoline, gold, paper, petroleum, plastic, rain, silver, snow, soap, steel, wood, wool

Most abstract nouns:advice, anger, beauty, confidence, courage, employment, fun, happiness, health, honesty, information, intelligence, knowledge, love, poverty, satisfaction, truth, wealth

Areas of study:history, math, biology, etc.

Sports: soccer, football, baseball, hockey, etc.

Languages:Chinese, Spanish, Russian, English, etc.

Other: clothing, equipment, furniture, homework, jewelry, luggage, lumber, machinery, mail, money, news, poetry, pollution, research, scenery, traffic, transportation, violence, weather, work

Geographical names are confusing because some require the and some vì not.

Use the with: united countries, large regions, deserts, peninsulas, oceans, seas, gulfs, canals, rivers, mountain ranges, groups of islands

the Gobi Desertthe United Arab Emiratesthe Sacramento Riverthe Aleutians

Do not use the with: streets, parks, cities, states, counties, most countries, continents, bays, single lakes, single mountains, islands

JapanChicoMt. EverestSan Francisco Bay

Examples of the Use of Articles

I vì chưng not want a gun in my house (any gun).The gun is in his clophối (implies there is a specific gun).I am afraid of guns (all guns in general).

She sent me a postcard from Italy (an unspecific postthẻ - not a letter, not an e-mail).It"s the postthẻ that I have in my office (one specific postcard).Getting postcards makes me want to lớn travel (any postcard in general).

I have sầu a dog (one dog).The dog is very friendly (the dog that I have already mentioned).Dogs make great pets (dogs in general).

Greta needs furniture in her apartment (furniture is a noncount noun).She is going lớn select the furniture that she needs (the specific furniture that she needs).She hopes khổng lồ find some furniture this weekend (an unspecified, limited amount of furniture).

We are going to lớn see the Statue of Liberty this weekend (the only Statue of Liberty).