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Introduction to Articles

What are the most used words in the English language? They are the articles. Actually, there are only three words which we describe as articles. Let us learn which words they are and their correct usage in Introduction to Articles.

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Introduction to Articles

Let us begin with an introduction to articles. So which words are articles? There are only three of them – “a” “an” and “the”. In a way articles are like adjectives, they actually describe a noun. Articles help define whether the noun in the sentence is a specific noun or an unspecific noun.

Introduction to Articles

The

We use the article “the” when the noun is a specific noun. So when we are talking about a specific person, place, time, feeling or situation we use ‘the’. It will indicate to the reader, that we are talking about a specific incident or person.

  • He wanted to go to the club that very night. (talking about one club in particular)
  • She asked Alex to pass her the book. (talking about one specific book)
  • The teacher asked Ryan to share the interesting story with the class (refers to one specific story)

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A/An

Now we will talk about the two other articles. ‘a’ and ‘an’. These are indefinite articles. We use them when talking about unspecific nouns. Here the noun in the sentence will refer will refer to a general idea or thing, not one specific object. Let us take a look at a few examples.

  • He wanted to go to a club that very night. (it means any club will do, not one particular one)
  • She asked Alex to pass her a book. (refers to any book, not a specific one)
  • The teacher asked Ryan to share an interesting story with the class (here it can be any interesting story)

The choice between ‘a’ or ‘an’ will depend on the word that follows. If the following word starts with a vowel, i.e. a, e, i, o, u then we use ‘an’ instead of ‘a’.  So while it is ‘a banana’ it will be ‘an apple’.

Article before Adjective

We use an article before a noun, to describe a noun as specific or unspecific. But sometimes we use adjectives to describe nouns. So the article in such a case will go before the adjective, Normally the order will be article followed by the adjective and then the noun.

  • He was staying in a big house. (a: article; big: adjective; house: noun)
  • It was a long movie. (a: article; long: adjective; movie: noun)

Solved Questions for You

Q: Fill in the blank with the correct or no article:

I have a black and _____ white dog.
(There are two dogs of which one is black and the other is white)

  1. a
  2. an
  3. the
  4. no article

Ans: Option A.

  • Option B – ‘An’ is used before a word that starts with a vowel sound. As ‘white’ starts with a consonant sound, we can’t use ‘an’ here. Thus option B is incorrect.
  • Option C – ‘The’ is used before the definite subjects. As we do not know which white dog the subject is talking about, we can’t use ‘the’ here. Thus option C is incorrect.
  • Option D – We use no article before the nouns that are usually uncountable. As ‘white dog’ is countable, we need an article. Thus option D is incorrect.
  • Option A – ‘A’ can be used here as ‘white dog’ is a singular subject and starts with a consonant sound. Thus option A is the correct answer. ‘I have a black and a white dog.’
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