Indefinite Articles in English

A and An - Apple
I want to eat an apple

Indefinite Articles in English

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

We only use a and an with singular countable nouns:

For example

  • I have a dog and a cat
  • That was an excellent strategy
  • There is a University where you live
  • She is an intelligent girl
  • There is a man outside the house
  • I am going to buy a house in an hour
  • She is a teacher.
  • She doesn’t own a car.
  • I saw a bear at the zoo.
  • She lived in an island for many years

How to Use A and An

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
She has to make a cake for the party
I have to get a good job, my family depends on it

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
I have to go to an important place tonight

A and An + Pronunciation

Sometimes with words that begin with h, the h sound is not pronounced. Unfortunately there is no rule about when the h is silent.

  • an + nouns starting with silent “h”:
    • an hour
    • an honest man
    • an honor
  • a + nouns starting with a pronounced “h“:
    • a horse
    • a human emotion
    • a historic day
    • a hero

Other Words to Consider

Pay attenton to how a and an is used with these words:

  • a European country
  • a university
  • a one-conference
  • a United States citizen
  • an FBI Agent
  • a U‑turn.


  • I would like to visit an European country
  • He is an FBI agent
  • A university in Norway is promoting recycling
  • It was an honor to meet such a wonderful people
  • He is an honest man, he would never do that
  • She is not a united states citizen
  • I saw a horse when I was coming from the supermarket
  • I will meet you here within an hour
  • Today is a historic day

Don’t use A and And in these cases

We don’t use a/an before uncountable nouns:

  • I could have a rice
  • We just made a pasta
When to use The
The cat is on your bed

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 RiverThe Mississippi River is the second longest river of the United States
The Himalayas The Himalayas is mountain range in Asia

A and An Exercises

FODA en Inglés

More Information

If you need more information about grammar explanations, exercises and worksheet on other topics, make sure to visit recommends the Cambridge Online Dictionary as a great tools to check unknown words

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