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Indefinite Articles

Updated on June 28, 2016

Indefinite and Definite Articles


Articles can be categorized into two,

a) Indefinite article (a or an)

b) Definite article (the)

Indefinite article is used with the things in singular which we can count. These things are known as countable.

Example: a bird

a pen

a boy

an apple

an elephant

(Note that the nouns which first letter starts with vowel (a,e,i,o,u) take the indefinite article an)

But, sometimes a word which is pronounced in consonant sound takes indefinite article a.

Example: a university (where the sound of ‘U’ is pronounced as ‘YOU’)

Likewise, the form an is used before a word beginning with a silent letter such as ‘h’.

Example: an hour (here ‘h’ is silent)

Note: indefinite articles cannot be used with uncountable nouns, which have no plural.

Example: Milk





The definite article (‘the’)

The definite article ‘the’ is the same for singular and plural.

  1. The definite article is used with a word referring to a person or thing, which is considered as only one or unique of its kind.

Example: The sun

The moon

The earth

The principal

The monitor

  1. When a person or thing is repeated,

Example: Tom broke a chair last week; you can still see the chair in our classroom.

  1. A person or thing which is different from the others in the group,

Example: The boy in black

The woman in the checked saree

  1. A person or thing which represents only one particular thing due to a reason or locality,

Example: My father is in the garden

Please pass me the drink

Likewise, the postman (the one who delivers post)

The shop (where we usually buy goods)

  1. The definite article is used before superlatives, first, second, only etc.

Example: The best way

The first day of college

The only way

  1. Before a noun which represents a class of animals or things,

Example: The Apes

  1. Before an adjective which represent a class of persons

Example: The old

The young


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