Indefinite
articles in English

            Indefinite
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 girl;

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·        
a big animal;

·        
an ugly shirt;

·        
an hour.

The use of indefinite articles can be
divided in 7 sections. The indefinite article is used:

1.     
To
refer to something for the first time

Example:         ‘Would
you like a drink?’;

                        I
have finally found a good, well-paying job;

                        An
elephant and a mouse fell in love.

2.     
Meaning
‘one’, referring to a single object or person

Example:         ‘I
would like an orange and two limes, please.’

3.     
With
names of jobs

Example:         Johnny
is a doctor;

                        Linda
is training to be an engineer;

                        She
wants to be a dancer.

4.     
With
nationalities and religions

Example:         John
is an Englishman;

                        Katy
is a Catholic.

5.     
To
refer to a kind of or example of something

Example:         The
mouse had a tiny nose;

                        It
was a very strange house.

6.     
With
singular nouns, after the words ‘what’ and ‘such’

Example:         What
a shame!;

                        She
is such a beautiful girl.

7.     
After
‘there is’

Example:         There
is a shoe on the floor;

                        There
is a notebook on the table.

 

A
or an is also used when asking about
the existence of something, e.g.:

·        
I
have finally got a new job (new information to the listener);

·        
Would
you like to have a drink? (question about the drink is being introduced
for the first time);

·        
Is
there a book in your backpack? (asking about the existence of the book)

Mainly these
articles are used when someone is talking about a thing in general, not
mentioning anything specific. Examples:

·        
Do
you have a driver’s license? (in general);

·        
Lizzy
wants a computer (not a particular computer, a computer in general);

·        
I
need a car (not a particular car, a car in general).

Use a
or an when introducing a type of
thing the speaker and the listener are talking about, e.g.:

·        
That
is an excellent movie (describing the kind of movie);

·        
Do
you live in a big apartment? (asking about the kind of apartment).

Categories: Articles

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