Articles are used before nouns to indicate whether the noun is specific or general. 'a', 'an' and 'the' are articles. Consider the following examples: Example 1: "I need a chair." In the sentence above, you find the article 'a'. It shows us that the speaker doesn't need a specific chair. He can have any chair. Example 2: "I want to eat an orange." In the sentence above, you find the article 'an'. It shows us that the speaker doesn't want a specific orange. He can have any orange. Example 3: "I want the blue marker." In the sentence above, we find the article 'the'. It shows us that the speaker wants a specific blue marker. In English, there are two types of articles- Definite and Indefinite Articles.
The Article 'A'
The article 'a' is an indefinite article because it does not point to a particular person or thing, but to any person or thing. The article 'a' is used before any noun beginning with a consonant or with the sound of a consonant. For example:
"a lion" (i.e. any lion)
"a university" (though the word begins with a vowel, the sound is that of a consonant, yu)
The Article 'An'
The article 'an' is an indefinite article. It does not point to a particular noun, but to any noun. It is used before nouns beginning with a vowel sound. For example:
"an honest man"
The Article 'The'
The article 'the' is a definite article because it usually points to a particular person or thing. For example:
"He visited the teacher" (i.e a particular teacher)
Identifying the Appropriate Article
Questions that ask you to identify which article goes before a noun, tests you on which definite or indefinite article goes before a noun, or whether the article before the noun should be omitted.