English Grammar 101: Articles

By Maeve Maddox

The words a, an, and the are generally called articles and sometimes classed as a separate part of speech. In function, however, they can be grouped with the demonstrative adjectives that are used to point things out rather than describe them.

Definite Article
The is called the definite article because it points out a particular object or class.
This is the book I was talking about.
The dodo bird is extinct.

Indefinite Article
A is called the indefinite article because it points out an object, but not any particular specimen.
a book, a dog, a lawn mower

The indefinite article has two forms:
A is used before words beginning with a consonant sound or an aspirated h:
a car, a lamb, a hope, a habit, a hotel

An is used before words beginning with a vowel sound:
an ape, an image, an untruth, an honorable man

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8 Responses to “English Grammar 101: Articles”

  • jovie galaraga

    When do we use “in” “on” in citing dates.

    Thanks

  • Mohamed

    I want to improve my english

  • nomadiqve

    hi, jovie!

    we use “on” when followed by a complete date: i was born on august 1, 1980.

    we use “in” when followed by an incomplete one: pope john paul II visited manila in january 1995.

    i hope this helps!

  • bloglogger

    The given “explanation” of articles is so inaccurate as to be harmful for students of English. The examples are all correct sentences and usages, but the reason for the choice of article has little to do with specificity or particularity. To wit: We say, “I’m going to the store” even when the speaker is unsure of which store, and we say, “This is a ____” to introduce a specific item (one that we are holding, for example). The truth about articles is much more complicated than the erroneous “general and specific” explanation. Check out the article chapter in The Grammar Book by Larsen-Freeman and Celce-Murcia for some insight.

  • Hendrik

    I like learning English. Yet, I sometimes get difficulty and confused to understand how to use the correct preposition, especially when I have to use “of, from, by, to, etc”. I need your help to fix my comprehension. Thank you

  • Beena Tarapur

    I would like to know as how to understand the letter is silent in the word . i have asked many trainers but got no reply. pls help me in.

  • vidhi jain

    i want to improve on my writing skills……..how can i do that????

  • Anna

    You chose a sticky one for your Grammar Test II. Euphemism has a vowel glide as its beginning sound and should take the article a, not an.

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