What are Articles in English Grammar?
An article is a word that modifies the noun and works quite similar to Adjective. In other words, an article defines the noun which can be defined or undefined.
Here are some examples of articles.
- An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
- Today I have a lot of work to do.
- I want you to take a break.
- Would you like to share a pen?
- Today is the last day to submit the reports.
In the English Language, some of the sentences use articles and some of them doesn’t.
Because it is mainly dependent on the usage of the nouns in the sentences (that we are going to learn in this post).
So, the main purpose of the article is to understand the identity of the noun used in the sentences.
Now, let us understand the different types of articles in English Language.
What are the different types of Articles?
The two different types of articles used in English grammar are,
- Definite Articles
- Indefinite Articles
The definite articles are used only for nouns which are specified. The nouns can be either Singular or Plural forms and also can be countable or uncountable.
Here, “the” is used as a Definite noun. So, whenever you are specifying something, use “the” article in the sentence.
For example, consider a situation where you and your friend (Ashish) have to submit a Maths project tomorrow.
So you will ask Ashish about the Project, then the conversation would be like,
- You: Hey Ashish, have you completed the project?
- Ashish: Yes, I have completed.
Here, “the” article is used in the sentence. Because you and Ashish were aware of that project.
So in short if you are specifying (or referring) name of something like a person, thing, animal, place, etc then use “the” article.
You can refer more from the below sentences.
- The pen I have is not working properly.
- The dogs in my street barks at everyone passing by.
- The movie which I have watched yesterday was good.
- The best life advice I have got is to never give up.
- He ate all the chocolates which I gave him.
- The government has made some of the policies which affect many businesses.
When to use Definite articles?
Before we understood that definite article should be used when the noun is specified. But there are some limitations (which means that you cannot use “the” in some places).
The definite article (the) is not used when the names of the below are specified,
And we should use “the” in some places like,
- countries names with states, republic, union, etc
- countries names ending with “s”
- mountain ranges
- names with “of”
For example, consider the below sentences.
- The Pacific is the largest ocean in the world.
- I don’t have time to complete all the assignments.
- The sun rises to the east.
- There are many eagles in the sky.
- The weather is good today.
- The air is getting polluted day by day because of the pollution.
- The Indian Ocean is at the bottom of India.
- Have you attended the party last night?
So, this is all about the Definite Articles. Now let us understand about the Indefinite Articles.
Indefinite Articles are used only when the nouns are not specified (undefined) and considered it as a general thing.
Here, “a” and “an” are used as Indefinite Articles and used only for Singular Countable nouns.
So, use “a” and “an” articles when you are not particularly specifying something but just considering it as general.
For example, consider a situation where your friend (Raju) has a basket of 6 apples in which three of them are bigger than the other and;
- If you want to take any one apple, then this is how you are going to ask your friend.
Me: Hey Raju, can you give me an apple to eat?
Now imagine that the basket has 6 bananas (no apples), then;
- If you want to take one banana, then you need to ask like;
Me: Hey Raju, can you give me a banana to eat?
Here, we can observe that “an” is used as an article in the 1st sentence and “a” is used as an article in the 2nd sentence.
It is because the usage of both the articles are different.
Do you want to know how it is different from each other? Well, we have mentioned it below.
Difference between a & an articles
The main difference between a and an articles are,
- Article “a” is used only for the nouns (words) which sounds consonant at the beginning of pronunciation.
- Article “an” is used only for the nouns (words) which sounds vowel at the beginning of pronunciation.
- Vowel letters are a, e, i, o, u (5 letters).
- Consonant letters are all the letters in the alphabet except Vowel letters (all 21 letters).
This is one of the basic rules of grammar that is important to know before you use the articles in the sentences.
If you haven’t read the basic rules of grammar, then you can click on the link below.
The most common mistake of using Articles
Many of them make a big mistake believing that the article “a” should be used for the words starting with Consonant letter and “an” article should be used for the words starting with a Vowel letter.
This is totally a wrong concept. For example consider below examples.
- Sentence 1: Today I have bought a new school bag. (_/)
- Sentence 2: It takes a hour to complete this homework. (X)
- Sentence 3: It takes an hour to complete this homework. (_/)
Here, you can observe that Sentence 2 is wrong because the article “a” is not applied even though the consonant (letter “h”) was used.
Same condition applies for some words like university,
Tip: If you want to use articles in the sentences, then mainly focus on sounds rather than letters.
So, this is all about the Articles (a, an, the).
Now let us understand the limitations of the Articles.
When we should not use the Articles?
The articles are not used for the names unless they are specified,
- languages like spanish, hindi, russian, etc
- sports like baseball, etc
- academic subjects like mathematics, physics, etc
Quiz Time! (Test your knowledge here)
Fill in the blanks with correct Articles (a, an, the).
#1. She has ___ beautiful dress.
#2. Today, ___ weather is sunny.
#3. Can you give me ___ glass of water?
#4. Russia is ___ largest country in ___ world.
Answer: the, the
#5. We are going to attend ____ business meeting today.
#6. ___ moon revolves around ___ Earth.
Answer: the, the
#7. I am having ___ lot of work today!
#8. John is going to attend ___ interview today.
#9. ____ match was interesting today.
#10. Today, I saw ___ big elephant in ___ zoo.
Answer: a, the
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Summary: (What are Articles in English Grammar?)
So, here is the summary of what we have discussed till now.
- The articles are used to describe the noun.
- There are two types of Articles, i.e. Definite (the) and Indefinite Articles (a, an).
- The definite article is used for specified nouns and Indefinite articles are used for unspecified nouns.
- The article “a” is used for Consonant sounded words and “an” is used for Vowel Sounded words.
If you are interested to learn more, then you can refer wikipedia from here.
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