articles in English
article in English refers to two words – a
and an. Indefinite means not specific. Just like other articles,
these words are invariable. It shows that the following noun is not a specific
one or is being mentioned for the first time. The speaker might be making a
general statement about a specific thing 1. One or the other is used
depending on the first letter of the word that is following the article, mainly
for pronunciation reasons. A is used
when the next word starts with a consonant sound (even if spelled with a
vowel). An is used when the next word
starts with a vowel sound (even if spelled with an initial consonant) like a, e,
i, o, u or with a mute h. The use of an before words beginning with silent h is more common generally in British English than in American. A or an
cannot be used with plural nouns, because a,
an means one or a single. Some examples on the use of
indefinite articles when the next word starts with a consonant or vowel include:
a big animal;
an ugly shirt;
The use of indefinite articles can be
divided in 7 sections. The indefinite article is used:
refer to something for the first time
you like a drink?’;
have finally found a good, well-paying job;
elephant and a mouse fell in love.
‘one’, referring to a single object or person
would like an orange and two limes, please.’
names of jobs
is a doctor;
is training to be an engineer;
wants to be a dancer.
nationalities and religions
is an Englishman;
is a Catholic.
refer to a kind of or example of something
mouse had a tiny nose;
was a very strange house.
singular nouns, after the words ‘what’ and ‘such’
is such a beautiful girl.
is a shoe on the floor;
is a notebook on the table.
or an is also used when asking about
the existence of something, e.g.:
have finally got a new job (new information to the listener);
you like to have a drink? (question about the drink is being introduced
for the first time);
there a book in your backpack? (asking about the existence of the book)
articles are used when someone is talking about a thing in general, not
mentioning anything specific. Examples:
you have a driver’s license? (in general);
wants a computer (not a particular computer, a computer in general);
need a car (not a particular car, a car in general).
or an when introducing a type of
thing the speaker and the listener are talking about, e.g.:
is an excellent movie (describing the kind of movie);
you live in a big apartment? (asking about the kind of apartment).