articles a/an (the indefinite article) and the (the definite
article) belong to a group of words called determiners. They normally go at the
beginning of noun phrases.
Alice is a financial advisor.
She is working for an insurance company.
I have been to the doctor.
Can I talk to the manager?
articles used for?
are used to show whether we are talking about things that are known both to the
speaker and to the listener or that are not known to them both. Articles can
also show whether we are talking about things in general or particular things.
noun normally has an article or other
determiner (my, this, her, some etc.) with it. We can say a dog, my dog,
that dog or every dog, but not just dog.
I saw a child in the
They have a house in
Can I use your car?
He is my friend.
Who is that boy in
the red shirt?
and uncountable nouns can be used with or without an article or other
Children usually rush about.
Milk is rich in nutrients.
Is there any milk in
Water is precious.
Time is money.
particular person or thing.
Call the man waiting
Revenge is the main theme
of this play.
about a person/thing already mentioned
earlier, the definite article is used in later references to that particular
I saw a beggar near
the bus stop; the fellow came to me with outstretched hands.
about a person/thing known to the listener
listener/reader to know which particular person(s) or thing(s) we are talking
Can I talk to the
manager? (The listener knows which person is meant.)
I have been to the
doctor. (Which doctor? My doctor.)
The book you want is out of print.
(Which book? The one you want.)
The child was crying. (Which child?
The one I met in the store.)
Let us go to the park. (Which
park? The one in the town.)
about unique things or events
The French Revolution began in 1789. (Unique:
because there has been only one French revolution.)
The Nile is the longest river in the
only ones of their kind also take the before them.
the city, the Nile, the country, the sea, the weather etc.
we are talking about somebody/something that the listener knows nothing about?
You don’t know the
Hiltons, do you? (The use of the makes it clear that there is
only one Hilton family in the speaker’s social environment.)
expressions referring to our physical environment
is used in a number of expressions referring to our physical environment.
rain, the wind, the country, the sunshine, the sea, the city etc.
I prefer the country to
The earth is the only planet that
adjectives referring to a particular class of people
particular class of people.
the disabled etc.
The rich are not always happy.
The accused was sent on bail.
The educated should teach the illiterate.
She is the eldest member
in the family.
The Nile is the longest river
in the world.
singular nouns that represent a whole class
used to represent the whole class of things to which it belongs.
The lotus is a lovely flower.
Can the leopard change
The camel is the ship of the desert.
noun always has an article or another
determiner with it.
talk about one particular person or thing when the listener does not know which
one is meant, or when it does not matter which one.
She married an old man.
They have a big house in
You had better consult a
I saw a hawker
selling his wares on the street.
A man came and knocked at the
A teacher must have patience. (=any
A spider has eight legs. (=any
A dog is faithful to its master.
A parrot can repeat what you say.
plural and uncountable nouns
plural and uncountable nouns.
Apples are red.
Computers are expensive.
Time is money.
possessives. We use double possessives instead.
He is a friend of mine. (NOT
He is a my friend.)
adjectives without nouns
adjective alone (without a noun).
She is a beautiful girl.
She is beautiful. (NOT
She is a beautiful.)
I love coffee. (NOT…
a coffee OR the coffee)
Milk is rich in nutrients. (NOT
The milk OR a milk)
We can’t do without water.
(NOT The water OR a water)
She likes reading books. (NOT…the
reading books OR a reading books)
names of countries
Japan is a developed nation. (NOT
I have been to England. (NOT…to
India is a secular republic. (NOT
He has just returned from South
Africa. (NOT …the South Africa)
country or organization specifically states that it is a collection of states.
(For example, The United States, The United Arab Emirates, The United Nations
He is leaving for the
United States tomorrow.
The United Nations is an international
organization of countries created to promote world peace and cooperation.
names of languages
Hindi is the national language of
It is not easy to learn French.
English is spoken in many parts of
names of meals
We have lunch at
midday. (NOT…the lunch)
We have dinner in the
evening. (NOT…the dinner)
Breakfast is the first meal of the
day. (NOT…the breakfast)
names of people, places etc.)
Alice is an architect. (NOT
The Alice or a Alice)
Mary is my friend. (NOT
Delhi is the capital of India.
We are having dinner with the
The Sharmas are very kind.
titles and names
Princess Diana was killed in a car
President Kennedy was assassinated.
India won freedom in 1947.
(NOT…in the 1947)
I was born in 1979.
possessives and demonstratives
(my, your, their etc.) and demonstratives (this, that, these, those).
This is my book. (NOT
This is a my book.)
I like this car. (NOT
I like the this car.)
coming or last day/month.
See you on Friday. (=Coming
We are leaving for the US next
week. (NOT …the next week.)
the week and months if we are talking about particular days or months.
We met on a rainy Friday.
It was a wet Monday in
She died on the Thursday after
article a/an is used to talk about one particular person or thing when
the listener does not know which one is meant.
I saw a child in the toy store.
She married an old man.
A girl answered
article is used when the listener knows which particular person or thing is
The child was
crying. (You know which child – the one I met in the toy store.)
I went to the doctor yesterday.
The girl who
answered the phone was polite. (You know which girl – the one who answered
you speak of something/somebody use a/an, the next time you repeat the
same noun use the.
things in general, we normally use a singular countable noun with a/an.
A spider has eight
An apple is red.
can also use a plural noun with no article to make a general statement.
Children need love.
Spiders have eight
Teachers must have
Apples are red.
use a singular noun with the to make general statements. This is
particularly common before the names of instruments and inventions.
Who invented the computer?
I would like to learn the violin.
either with some/any or with no article. Usually there is no difference
I need (some) writing paper.
Have you got (any) rice?
about limited but rather indefinite number or quantities. We use no article
when we are thinking about unlimited numbers or quantities, or not thinking
about numbers/quantities at all.
We have bought some eggs.
Do you like eggs? (No
idea of number)
Is there any milk in
the bottle? (Limited quantity)
Milk has a sweet taste. (No idea
We bought a lot of apples
Apples are red. (General statement)
I would like a little
We planted some trees
in the garden. (Limited number)
There were trees on
either side of the road. (No idea of number)
fixed expressions to do with place, time and movement, normally countable nouns
are treated as uncountable, without articles. Examples are:
To/at/from university/college (GB)
To/in/from college (US)
To/in/into/out of bed/prison
To/in/into/out of hospital (GB)
nouns, similar expressions with articles may have different meanings.
I met her at college. (When we were students)
I met her at the college. (The college is
just a meeting place.)
English, university and hospital are not used without articles.
expressions, particularly with prepositions. Examples are:
fork) (NOT With a knife and fork)
Husband and wife (NOT a husband and a wife)
From top to bottom (NOT From the top to the bottom)
Inch by inch
On land and sea
when singular nouns follow prepositions.
dropped after both.
OR Both the children are good at singing.
OR You can take all three shirts.
after kind of, sort of, type of and similar expressions.
kind of a person is she?)
What sort of bird is that?
What a sweet song!
Mountains (the Alps, the Himalayas)
Island groups (the West Indies)
Rivers (the Nile, the Amazon, the Thames)
Deserts (the Sahara, the Atacama)
continents, countries, states, departments etc. Examples are: Asia, India,
France, Texas, Beijing etc.
China, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands,