Monday, March 6, 2017

Those Little Words...A, An, and The

Table of Articles

Singulara / anthe

Quick Hints

  • a before consonants (a book)
    an before vowels or consonants with a vowel sound (an exam, an honest mistake) 

  • Temporary illnesses: (I have a headache, a cold, a fever, a backache)

  • "The" with superlative forms (He is the smartest kid I have seen.)

Singular count nouns:

  • indefinite: use 'a'
  • definite: use "the"

  • My daughter wants to buy a dog this weekend. (Indefinite-Could be any dog)
    The dog in the backyard is very cute.(Definite-The one in the backyard) 

    He requested a puppy for his birthday.
    He wanted the puppy he played with at the pet shop.
    She ordered a hamburger without onions.
    Did you drink the coke I just ordered? 

    Plural count nouns:

    Use "the" or Nothing, never 'a'. 
    Come and look at the children. (definite)
    Children are always curious. (indefinite)
    She loves flowers. (indefinite)
    The flowers in her garden are beautiful. (definite)
    Do you like reading grammar rules?
    Do you like reading the grammar rules on this page? 

    Non-count nouns:

    Use "the" or nothing.
    He has experience. (if indefinite or mentioned for the first time)
    He has the experience necessary for the job. (if definite or mentioned before)

    The medicine the doctor prescribed had unpleasant side effects.
    Writing in a second language is especially challenging.
    Have you studied the history of South Africa?
    History reminds us that events repeat themselves.

    Definite Article THE Rules

    Adjectives as Nouns

    When referring to a group of people by use of an adjective rather than a noun, use "the". 

    the elderlythe disabledthe unemployed
    the richthe sickthe needy
    the homelessthe youngthe restless

    Names of Countries

    Some countries are preceded by "the", usually if the name is plural, contains an adjective, or includes "of".

    The United StatesThe Soviet UnionThe Republic of Congo

    Rivers, Oceans, Seas, Groups of Mountains & Islands use "the"

    the Amazonthe Atlanticthe Mediterranean
    the Cascadesthe Hawaiian Islandsthe Bahamas

    Location versus Activity

    When referring to an activity, use nothing 
    I am going to school now.(activity-study) 
    He is always on time for class. (activity-learn)

    When referring to the location, use "the" 

    The meeting is at the school. (location-campus)
    They are remodeling the movie theater. (location-building)
    The new student had trouble finding the class. (location-classroom) 

    Unique Objects - Use THE

    the earththe human racethe world
    the moonthe sunthe universe

    Part of a larger group, Use THE

    -One of the students
    -None of the students
    -Both of the students
    -All of the students 

    To practice online:

    More rules for using articles:


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