There are 3 articles in
English i.e. ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’. In fact there are certain situations where no
article is needed. We have to follow certain guidelines in order to decide
which article to use before a noun in the sentence.
First of all we have to
categorize the noun as countable and uncountable. Countable nouns are those
that refer to something that can be counted. They have both singular and plural
forms (e.g. flower/flowers; man/men; country/countries). In the
singular, they can be preceded by ‘a’ or ‘an’. Uncountable nouns
are those that cannot be divided into separate elements and thus cannot be
counted. For example- milk, oil, hair etc.
using articles ‘a’ and ‘an’.
articles includes - ‘a’ and ‘an’. Articles ‘a’ and ‘an’ are called indefinite
articles because they refer to any member of a group, rather than to a
particular member of the group. We use them before a singular countable noun. Example:
a pen, a boy, a plant, a building, a man, a red umbrella, a camel, a swimming
pool, a university, etc.
use ‘a’ and ‘an’ depending upon the sound with which a countable noun begins. Noun
may begin with a consonant sound or a vowel sound.
use ‘an’ if the following word begins with a vowel sound although they begin
with a consonant. Example: an apple, an elephant, an hour, an MBA, an
MNC, an MLA, an MP, an umbrella, an Igloo, an octopus, an honest girl, an ugly
dress, an egg etc.
use ‘a’ if the following word begins with a consonant sound. Example: a
table, a girl, a book, a teacher, a union, etc.
usually use a/an before a singular countable noun when we introduce a noun for
the first time while speaking or writing.
‘a’ is also used in phrases like have a headache, a bad cold, a noise, to be in
a hurry, a good option etc.
plural of indefinite articles ‘a/an’ is ‘some’. Word ‘some’ is used to denote
unknown or any of the things.
are some mangoes trees in his garden.
up some mustard oil. (Means oil of any brand.)
using article ‘the’
‘The’ is called as the
definite article as it points to a specific person or thing. Here the speaker as well the writer is
aware of the identity of the noun.
sun is the ultimate source of energy.
met the doctor who is a neurosurgeon.
order for laptops was sent yesterday.
1. We use ‘the’ before a noun
when we talk about a particular member of a group (common noun). Example:
The minister was invited for inauguration function of the mall.
2. Article ‘the’ is also used
when noun is unique and one of its kind. Example: the morning star, the
saturn, the earth, the moon, the sun, the sky, the stars, the heaven, the hell etc.
3. Article ‘the’ is used on
its subsequent reference after it has already been introduced or used while
writing or speaking. Example: I saw a boy and a girl playing along the beach.
The boy was making a castle using sand. In this sentence, both the words ‘boy’
and ‘girl’ are countable nouns and hence the words are preceded by ‘a’ when
used for the first time. But the same word is preceded by ‘the’ when repeated
in the same context.
4. Definite article ‘the’ is
also used before superlative adjectives. Example: the tallest tree, the
most beautiful house, the longest rope, the least harmful medicine, the best
This is the smallest umbrella I have ever
Our kitchen garden is the biggest in our
This is the best alternative among others.
She is the most beautiful girl in our
5. Use ‘the’ to represent the
entire class or group of people, animals or things.
a. The cat is as nice as dog.
b. The toddler is naughty by nature.
6. Before the names of (a)
sacred books, (b) newspapers, (c) rivers, (d) well known buildings, (e)
mountain ranges, (f) seas, oceans, (g) islands etc.
The Gita, the Bible, the Guru Granth Sahib,
The Times of India, The Indian Express, The
Hindustan Times, The New York Times, The Tribune, The Indian Express etc.
The Ganga, the Nile, the Yamuna, the Indus,
the Narmada etc.
d. The Himalayas, the Andes, the Western
Ghats, the Nilgiris, the Alps etc.
e. The Indian Ocean, the Antarctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the
7. Write ‘the’ before the
names of communities. Example: the Hindus, the Muslims, the Cholas, the
Christians, the Sikhs, the English, the Aryans.
8. Use article ‘the’ in
phrases like in the winter, in the summer, in the autumn, in the morning, in
the evening, in the afternoon, in the night and linkers like on the other hand,
to speak the reality, to tell you the fact etc.
9. We use ‘the’ following a
class. Example: the rich, the poor, the middle class, the elite, the
schedule caste etc.
10. Use ‘the’ when ‘of’ is a
part of the school’s or universities name. Example: the Institute of
Chartered Financial Analysts of India, the University of Calcutta etc.
11. Use article ‘the’ to refer
a part from a large group.
a. One of the girls was absent.
of the stolen jewelry was recovered.
12. Avoid using ‘the’ unless
the name of the country refers to a group or has the word “of” within the name.
Example: United States of America.
the before ordinal numbers such as “first,” “second,” “third”, “fourth” etc.
not use articles before cities and streets. Example: His clinic is in
we refer to a common noun that stands for something in the widest of sense.
is only man. (It means that he cannot be God.)
kind of answer is it?
article in case of material noun.
is very precious.
article while referring to language.
is my mother tongue.
scored good grade in English in my first term exam.
are not required while referring the name of a relation like brother, sister, mother,
father, husband, God.
brother is coming tonight.
is already home.
is not used before proper nouns like Qutub Minar, Rajiv, Delhi except in few
is the Shakespeare of our city.
is the Newton of this era.
not use any article before temple, church, school, hospital, bed, market,
court, etc. which are visited for the primary purpose for which they have been
is going to market.(to shop)
b. She is going to the market. (for some other purpose)