Grammar Lessons: Indefinite Articles A and An

What’s an Article

An article is a word used to modify a noun, which is a person, place, object, or idea.

When to use The

The most used article is the word the which is used to refer directly to a specific noun or groups of nouns.

For Example:

This is the right place
New York is the largest city in the United States
Adam was the first man
That’s the house I want to buy
She is the man who stole my wallet
The cat is black
I saw a movie last night. The movie was entertaining.
The girl is pretty

Use “the” if a specific person has a title or if only one person has a title.

  • I talked to the president of United States on the phone
  • She visited the doctor of that clinic.
  • Maria had the chance to interview the Queen of England about the matter
  • Let me talk to the nurse in charge

Use that to talk about names of oceans, rivers, seas, deserts, forests, canals

The Pacific OceanI would like to sail in the pacific ocean
The Mediterranean SeaThe Mediterranean  is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world’s oceans
The Sahara Desert The Sahara is the largest hot desert 
The Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second longest river of the United States
The Himalayas The Himalayas is mountain range in Asia

Indefinite Article A and An

Indefinite articles are the words ‘a’ and ‘an’ to modify non-specific or non-particular nouns

A and An - Apple
I want to eat an apple

The Indefinite Articles A and AN

The indefinite article takes two forms.

We use the word a   when this precedes a word that begins with a consonant, for example:

I have a hat
I want to buy a red hat
He is gonna make a decision
She wants to buy a new computer
Please, Give me a piece of cake

We use the word  an when it precedes a word that begins with a vowel, for example

I have an interesting story to tell you
That’s an old car
I need to work for an hour before we go to dinner.
She is gonna bring a small gift to Priscilla
She has to make an important decision
My mother is an honest woman
It is an honor to be on your team
I want to eat an apple

A and An + Pronunciation

  • an + nouns starting with silent “h”:
    • an hour
    • an FBI Agent
    • an  honest man
  • a + nouns starting with a pronounced “h“:
    • a horse
    • a human emotion
    • a European country
    • a university
    • a one-conference
    • a United States citizen

A and AN Exercises

A and An

Choose  A or An

Learn More

Learn more about  English Grammar by visiting the How to Teach and Learn Grammar section of this site