Articles in English – Introduction & Rules

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Definition of Articles

In this post, you will be learning about Articles in English. Article is a word which refers to a person, thing or place. In simple terms, article refers to the noun.

Types of Articles

There are two kinds of articles they are a or an and the. They are termed as Definite and Indefinite article. Definite article tells us about a specific person while indefinite article speaks of any person thing or place.

Indefinite Article

A or an is called the Indefinite Article, as it leaves indefinite the person or thing spoken of.

Some examples include: a doctor, a school, a man, a woman, an apple. This means that the speaker is referring to any doctor, any school etc and is not particular.

Definite Article

The is called the Definite Article, as it normally points out some particular
person or thing.

Ramya saw the doctor – where the points out some particular doctor that the speaker or listener already knows about.

The indefinite article is used before singular countable nouns such as a book, an orange, a girl. The definite article is used before singular countable nouns, plural countable and uncountable nouns, for example the book, the books, the milk.

The choice between a and an is determined by sound. Before a word beginning with a vowel sound an is used.

Examples: an egg, an orange, an honest man, an hour. A and An are used with the singular number only.

Using Articles with Countable and Uncountable Nouns

A countable noun refers to items that can be counted and such nouns can be either singular or plural. An uncountable noun on the otherhand cannot be counted and are always singular.

When specific identity is not known we use a or an for countable nouns and we do not use any articles for uncountable nouns.

Examples:
We are looking for an apartment. (Countable)
That woman is a doctor. (Countable)

When specific identity is known we use the for both countable and uncountable nouns.

Examples:
The girl sitting next to me answered the question.
The book that I read last night was great.

When we are referring to all things or things in general we do not use any articles.

Examples:
She does not like coffee.
Consuming water adequately is important to stay healthy.

the (before a singular or plural noun)

Rules to Use Indefinite Articles

Indefinite article A or An is used before a singular countable noun when it is mentioned for the first time and it does not represent specific person or thing.

Examples:
Amy is a professor.
I have a car.

Use indefinite articles when referring to numerical sense of one.

Examples:
Twelve inches make a foot.
Not a word was said

Use indefinite articles when considering an individual as the representative of a class.

Examples:
A student should obey his teacher
A cow is a useful animal Maintenance is important for a vehicle.

Indefinite article is used when a proper noun is used as common noun.

Examples:
He is a Hitler.
Naveen is a Shakespeare of our school.

Rules to Use The Definite Article

We use the definite article when we are referring to a particular person or thing or to refer someone or something previously mentioned.

Examples: I like the yellow shirt. I have a house. The house is located in Coimbatore.

The definite article is used to represent a whole class.

Examples: The rose is the sweetest of all flowers. The computer has made text editing easier.

We use the definite article before certain Proper names that refers to geographical terms namely river, mountain range, group of islands, canals, ocean, bridge, region and building.

Examples: The Harvard Bridge was closed for renovations in 1924.
Hiking across the Rocky Mountains would be difficult.

Use the with countries that have plural names

Example:
I have never been to the Netherlands.

Use the with organizations, government, committees, parties, associations, foundations, clubs

Example:
the Congress of the United States, the United Nations (the UN).

Use the with countries that include the words republic, kingdom, or states in their names.

Example:
She is visiting the United States.

Use the with newspaper names.

Example:
She works for the New York Times.

Use the with the names of famous buildings, works of art, museums, or monuments.

Example:
We went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa.

Use the with the names of hotels & restaurants, unless these are named after a person.

Example:
They are staying at the Hilton on 6th street.

Use the with the names of families, but not with the names of individuals.

Example:
We’re having dinner with the Smiths tonight.

Omission of Articles

Articles are not used:

Before proper, material and abstract nouns used in a general sense.

Examples:
Delhi is the capital of India.
Gold is a precious metal.
Sugar is bad for your teeth.

Before plural countable nouns used in a general sense.

Examples:
Children like chocolates
Computers are used in many offices

Before languages

Examples:
She is studying English.
I love Mathematics.

Before a common noun used as common reference.

Examples:
Man is mortal.
Iron is a useful metal.

Before the names of continents, countries, cities, towns, days, months, arts, languages, sciences, some diseases etc.

Examples:
December is a cold month.
English is spoken all over the world.

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