Using The, A and An


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Articles – The and A/An

Most nouns need a determiner before them. “The,” “a” and “an” are a type of determiner.

The           When noun is known. Maybe you could point to it, at least in your mind. The noun’s specific identity is known.

A/An         When the noun is being introduced or is not known. The noun’s specific identity is not known.

Use “a” when the next word begins with a consonant (not a vowel).

Use “an” when the next word begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u)

Exception, when the next word begins with a consonant that is pronounced with a vowel sound at the beginning. Example “hour.”

Count Nouns can be counted: apples, chairs, trees, etc

Non-Count Nouns can’t be counted: water, love, space, etc

Choosing The, A/An or No Article
 Count NounsNon-Count Nouns
1.  Specific Identity not known  a, an(no article)
2.  Specific identity known  thethe
3.  All things or things in general  (no article)(no article)
4. Names (no article)
Examples (see table above):

Count Nouns

  1. An apple is over on the table. Would you like to eat it? (specific identity not known)
  2. Mom, I’m sorry. When I was driving the car, I had an accident. (specific identity known)
  3. Tall people have no trouble reaching the high shelves. (all things, or things in general)
  4. Paris is lovely in the spring.

Non-Count Nouns

  1. Orange juice is in the refrigerator. (specific identity not known)
  2. The air is very clear today. (specific identity known)
  3. Water is really cold before it freezes. (all things or things in general)


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Published by myunlimitedenglish

I understand that language acquisition is a process. Once a person has learned the first few words of the language, they are on their way! Whether the next step is talking about ordering food in a restaurant or launching a rocket into space, I am available to help with the English. My passion in my teaching is to applaud the acquired language, to build further understanding and to practice next steps. I look forward to helping you in your next steps.

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