Articles in English (‘a, an’ and ‘the’)

(Rules for using the definite and indefinite articles: a, an, the)

Table of contents – articles

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Definite and indefinite English articles
  2. Further explanations and exercises

How are definite and indefinite articles used in English?

Articles in the English language stand before nouns and never appear alone. They can be definite (the) or indefinite (‘a’ or ‘an’). In particular, the following rules need to be considered for their usage:

  1. The definite article ‘the’ is used with countable or uncountable nouns, which can be in the singular or in the plural:
    • The house is huge.”
      • countable and singular
    • The money was spent.”
      • uncountable
    • The books are interesting.”
      • countable and plural
  2. The indefinite article ‘a’ or ‘an’ is usually only used with countable nouns in the singular. The difference between both words is:
    • a’ is employed whenever the noun begins with a consonant or when the first letter is pronounced as a consonant:
      • a book
      • a girl
      • a unit
        • Note: Although the letter ‘u’ is a vowel, it is vocalised like a consonant with the pronunciation [ju] in this case.
    • an’ is used when the following word starts with a vowel or a letter that is pronounced like a vowel:
      • an office
      • an apple
      • an hour
        • Note: Same particularity as above. Although the letter ‘h’ is a consonant, it is spoken like a vowel here, which means the ‘h’ is not pronounced.

Further explanations relating to the ‘Articles in English’

The following explanations relate to the topic ‘Definite and indefinite articles (a, an, the)’ and might also be interesting for you: