- Indefinite Articles
- Definite Article
- No Article
Articles are short words that precede nouns and define them as specific or unspecific. There are two kinds of articles in English grammar: indefinite articles a and an, and the definite article the. There are also nouns that we use without articles at all.
I would like to try to live in a capital one day.
A precedes the word capital, as there is no specific capital defined in the sentence.
London is the capital of Great Britain.
The precedes the word capital because there is a specific capital city described in the sentence - London.
Rule 1: We use the indefinite article to talk about something unspecified.
He is in a room.
It is not specified exactly which room he is in.
Rule 2: We use the indefinite article to mention something for the first time in the text.
He has a textbook, a copybook, and a pencil box in a backpack.
All these things are mentioned in the text for the first time.
Rule 3: We use the indefinite article to talk about job titles.
His mother is a teacher.
The word teacher is a job title.
Note: We use an instead of a before words that begin with a vowel or vowel sound (such as silent h).
I snacked on an apple before dinner because I was too hungry to wait.
The word apple starts with a vowel, so we should use an instead of a.
Rule 4: We use the definite article to talk about something specified.
There was a whiteboard in the classroom.
The whiteboard was in a certain classroom.
Rule 5: We use the definite article to talk about something we have already mentioned or assume it to be already known.
He has many things in a backpack. The backpack is heavy.
The is used in the second sentence before the word backpack because it was already mentioned in the first one.
Rule 6: We don't use any articles for plural nouns that refer to general people or things. However, they are still used for specific people or things.
Usually plants require a lot of sun and warmth. The plants I own are resistant to cold.
The word plants is a plural known used to describe both general and specific things in this example.
Rule 7: We don't use any articles for the names of continents, countries, towns, streets, squares, parks, lakes.
I like to spend my afternoons in Central Park.
Central Park is the name of the park, so it doesn't need an article.
Note: There are exceptions to this rule, which include countries like the Netherlands and those containing words Kingdom, Republic, State, Union in the name.
London is the capital of the United Kingdom.
The is used before the country's name because it has the word Kingdom in it.
Rule 8: We don't use any articles for the names of months, days of the week, and meals, unless they're specified.
She arrived in April. We had breakfast together on a rainy Sunday.
April is the name of the month and breakfast is a meal, both unspecified; Monday is the name of a day, specified in this sentence.
Rule 9: We don't use any articles for institutions such as school, university, hospital, etc. when they're not specified.
Of course, our children go to school. My sons go to the school down the street.
The word school is used to describe both unspecified and specified institutions in this example.
Rule 10: We don't use any articles for materials (wood, paper, metal, etc.) and abstract nouns that name things we cannot touch (hope, life, love, etc.).
There's still hope for tomorrow.
Hope is an abstract noun, so it doesn't need an article.
Rule 11: We don't use any articles for parts of the body or personal objects. Instead, we use possessive adjectives (my, your, his, our, etc.).
Hold my hand.
Hand is a noun that names a part of a body, so it is used with a possessive adjective my.
Rule 12: We don't use any articles for certain expressions.
|expressions with words bed, class, home, work||go to bed, be in class, after work, come home|
|go by + means of transport||go by bus, go by train, go by plane, go by taxi|
|play + sport||play football, play tennis, play golf, play baseball|
Choose the correct article: I have ___ story to tell.