General English : Notes on Articles

By Asha Gupta|Updated : May 8th, 2021

Articles:

An article is a word used to modify noun, which is an object, a person, a place or an idea. ‘A’, ‘An’, ‘The’ are called articles out of which, ‘A’ and ‘An’ are known as Indefinite articles while ‘The’ is known as Definite article.

Articles:

An article is a word used to modify noun, which is an object, a person, a place or an idea. ‘A’, ‘An’, ‘The’ are called articles out of which, ‘A’ and ‘An’ are known as Indefinite articles while ‘The’ is known as Definite article.

 

A/An:

A/An is used for singular countable nouns which are introduced for the first time, .i.e., they are indefinite.

E.g. (I) She is girl. (N)

She is a girl. (Y)

(II) They purchased car. (N)

They purchased a car. (Y)

  • An is used only before the letters producing vowel sounds, i.e., the sounds produced while speaking the vowels ‘a, e, i, o, u’.g. An honest woman.
  • If the word starts with a consonant sound, article ‘A’ is used. e.g. A one rupee note.

Note: You need to take care the pronunciation in case of an abbreviation as well.

Uses of Indefinite articles:

  1. A/An is used before singular countable nouns. e.g. She has a pair of red shoes.

Note: Though ‘Noise’ is an uncountable noun, it takes article ‘a’ before it.

  1. In case of exclamatory sentences, A/An is used after ‘what’ and ‘how’, and before the singular countable noun that are used in the sentence.

e.g., What a grand building!

How beautiful a girl she is!

  1. A/An will come before a verb which is used as a noun in a sentence.

e.g. Shalini goes for a walk daily.

Shyam has gone for a ride.

  1. A/An can be used in place of ‘per’ in a sentence.

e.g. She completes 20 pages a week.

He runs twenty meters an hour.

  1. A/An will be used before a noun when many/rather/such/quite takes a singular noun after them. e.g.:

He was such a foolish guy.

It was quite an honorable moment.

Many a man would play the game that night.

She was rather a polite girl.

  1. A is used before half/fractions.

e.g. Three and a half men

Mr. Sharma had to run half a km daily.

A is used with the words that indicate the number of countable nouns such as ‘hundred’, ‘dozen’, ‘couple’, ‘million’, thousand’ etc.

The:

The is known as definite article because it is used before definite nouns towards which someone can ‘point out’. Thus, definite nouns are the nouns that we can ‘visualize’ or that has ‘already been introduced’. Hence, “The” is called as definite article.

E.g. Once upon a time, there lived an old woman. The old woman was very generous. One day, she decided to meet a hermit. The hermit was very poor.

In the first sentence given above, ‘an old woman’ is introduced. Thus, article ‘a’ preceded ‘old woman’. In the very next sentence, ‘old woman’ has become familiar to us, thus, article ‘The’ came before it. In the third sentence, the next person, .i.e., ‘a hermit’ has been introduced. In the last sentence, again, the person became familiar to us, thus, ‘The hermit’ has been used in the sentence.

USE OF ARTICLE WITH DIFFERENT KINDS OF NOUN:

  • Proper Noun
  1. With the names of any person or place, article never comes. E.g.  Ram was an honest man.
  2. With the name of states, ‘The’ doesn’t come, except with Punjab, .i.e., ‘The Punjab’.
  3. ‘The’ is not used with the name of any country.

E.g. Australia, Romania, China etc.

However, if ‘Union’, ‘United’, ‘Republic’ or ‘Kingdom’ comes with the names of the country, ‘the’ is used. E.g. The Soviet Union, The USA, The Irish Republic, etc.

4.  Before the names of the mountain ranges, ‘the’ comes

E.g. The Alps, The Shivaliks, etc.

5. Article doesn’t come before the name of any disease, except The Measles, The Rickets, The Mumps, The Plague and The

6. ‘The’ doesn’t come before the name of any language but it comes before ‘nationality’.

E.g. The French speak French.

The British defeated the French.

7. When it means ‘Room’, ‘The’ comes before the ‘Space’.

E.g. He tried to park the vehicle, but the space was not enough.

Many astronauts dream of going to space.

8. ‘The’ is used before the names of Holy Books: The Quran, The Bible.

9. ‘The’ is used before the names of the Monuments: The Taj Mahal, The Red Fort.

  • Common Noun
  1. Article ‘The’ is used before an object which is already known to both the speaker and the listener.

E.g. Can you please go and catch the bus?

Will you pass the cup I gave you yesterday?

  1. An article can represent the entire species, if it comes before a singular common noun.

E.g. A dog is a faithful animal.

Exception: Man doesn’t come under this rule because the word ‘man’ means a human being, not the entire species, e.g., Man is mortal.

  1. Article will not be used if schools, colleges, temples are denoted in reference to their primary purpose.

E.g. Children should go to school

My grandmother goes to temple every morning.

Article will be used if schools, colleges, temples etc. denote a place or a building, not its primary purpose.

E.g. My house is behind a school.

The college is next to the temple.

  • Abstract Noun/ Material Noun: No Article is used with abstract nouns. They are uncountable nouns, hence, A/An cannot be used with them, e.g., Honesty is the best policy.

Exception: An article precedes the noun if nouns are followed by preposition ‘of’.

E.g. The bravery of that man is famous in the town.

The wooden ornaments of this locality are known for their designs.

USE OF ARTICLE WITH ADJECTIVES:

  1. Before superlative degree, ‘The’ is often used.

E.g. He is the worst player in the team.

  She is the most irritating girl of the town.

  Exception: Article A/An can also be used if we talk about one out of many nouns qualified by       superlative degree.

E.g. This is a most useful book needed for bank exams.

  1. When two comparative degrees are shown inversely or directly proportional to each other, ‘The’ is used before the comparative degree.

E.g. The higher you go, the harder will be for you to breathe.

The more you call, the lesser I listen.

  1. A comparative degree is used, preceded by ‘the’ and followed by ‘of’ if one out of two are chosen.

E.g. He is the better of the two cooks.

She is the stronger of the two women.

But a superlative degree is used, preceded by ‘the’ and followed by ‘of’ if one out of many are chosen.

E.g. He is the best of all the students.

  1. Article ‘The’ denotes the entire class and become plural common noun when it is used before adjectives like honest, poor, rich, meek

E.g. The poor are always exploited by the rich.

The poor and the rich, the young and the old, all demand the corruption free India.

  1. Article ‘The’ is used with the proper noun when any adjective or a noun qualifies a proper noun.

E.g. Ashoka the great.

The great Akbar.

Napoleon, the warrior.

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Posted by:

Asha GuptaAsha GuptaMember since Mar 2021
Associate Content Developer - AE/JE Non-technical
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