Article

Definition: English has two types of articles: definite (the) and indefinite (a, an.) The use of these articles depends mainly on whether you are referring to any member of a group, or to a specific member of a group:

Indefinite articles - a and an (determiners)
A and an are the indefinite articles. They refer to something not specifically known to the person you are communicating with.
A and an are used before nouns that introduce something or someone you have not mentioned before:

Examples:

  • I ate an apple this morning
  • I bought a pet for my son
You use a when the noun you are referring to begins with a consonant (b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y or z), for example, "a city" and "a factory

You use an when the noun you are referring to begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u)

Pronunciation changes this rule:

If the next word begins with a consonant sound when we say it, for example, "university" then we use a. If the next word begins with a vowel sound when we say it, for example "hour" then we use an.

Examples:
  • We say "university" with a "y" sound at the beginning as though it were spelt "youniversity".
    So, "a university" is correct.
  • We say "hour" with a silent h as though it were spelt "our".
    So, "an hour" is correct.

Definite Article - the (determiners)

You use the when you know that the listener knows or can work out what particular person/thing you are talking about.

Example:
  • The dog (that specific dog)
  • The apple (that specific apple)
You should also use the when you have already mentioned the thing you are talking about.

Example:
  • She's got two children; a girl and a boy. The girl's eight and the boy's fourteen.
We use the to talk about geographical points on the globe.

Example:
  • the Middle East, the West
We use the to talk about rivers, oceans and seas

Example:
  • the Nile, the Pacific
We also use the before certain nouns when we know there is only one of a particular thing.

Example:
  • the rain, the sun, the wind
However if you want to describe a particular instance of these you should use a/an.

Example:
  • "I could hear the wind." / "There's a cold wind blowing."



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