There are two articles in English: “the” and “a / and” Articles shall be used for nouns.
Articles are divided into the following two types:
Indefinite Articles: “a or an”
Definite Article: “The”
The indefinite article “a / an” is used for common (non-specific) nouns.
Example: She bought a mobile.
In the above example, the ‘mobile’ is a common noun. The noun ‘mobile’ refers to a group of common things. It can be any mobile. It is not a specific or particular mobile.
On the other hand, the article “the” is only used for a specific or particular noun.
The article ‘the’ must be used before particular nouns such as ‘The America, The London, The Bible’. The article ‘the’ may also be used before a common noun, if the common noun is intentionally used as a particular noun in some context.
Example: He won the game.
In the above example, the article ‘the’ used before the noun ‘game’ shows that it was a specific or particular competition and not any game. The article ‘the’ is used to make the noun ‘game’ a particular noun. It means that this game was already discussed or known in the context, in which, the above sentence is spoken.
Rules for the usage of Indefinite articles – “a / an”
-The article “a” is used for countable (singular) nouns starting with a consonant or a vowel which sounds like consonant. e.g. a car, a lamp, a university, a chair
-The article “an” is used for countable (singular) nouns starting with a vowel or consonant that sounds like vowel (mute in few words) e.g. an umbrella, an onion, an hour, an apple.
-Before a countable noun which refers to a major group of things.
e.g. A potato is rich in carbohydrates.
- For a name of some profession
e.g. He wants to become a doctor.
He is an engineer
- For expression of quantities
e.g. a few, a dozen, a couple, a lot
- For expression of numbers
e.g. a million, a thousand, a hundred
- Before a noun in exclamatory sentences
e.g. What a beautiful home!
What a nice book!
- Article cannot be used before uncountable nouns. e.g. milk, water.
Important note: If a word is countable (e.g. one book, two books), you must always use an article (or my, his, etc.):
I read a book.
I read book.
This is true even if there are adjectives before the noun:
He drives an old car.
He drives old car.
Never use a or an with a word that is plural (e.g. trees, books) or uncountable (e.g. water, advice):
I asked her for advice.
I asked her for an advice.
Rules for the usage of Definite article – “The”
The definite article “The” is used for both singular and plural nouns in accordance with the rules given below. e.g. the car, the cars
-Before proper nouns which are particular and thought to be particular. e.g. the moon, the sun, the stars, the equator, the earth
-Before a noun which becomes particular by being discussed earlier, and now it is used again.
e.g. He gave money to a little boy and the boy bought toys for himself.
-For such a noun that has become specific in a phrase or a clause. e.g. the young energetic boy, the boy who helped us, the white shirt I bought,
-For superlatives or other adjective making the noun very particular one e.g. the most powerful, the first day, the only way, the best option,
-For a phrase which is a combination of a common and proper noun, e.g. The river Nile, The Muslim League Party, The New York City.
-For the names of the organizations. e.g. The Society for the protection of Child’s Rights,