Definite and Indefinite Articles

A, an, the are the articles, which are used before Nouns to show whether we are talking of general nouns or specified ones.

Therefore, they are divided into two categories:

1. Indefinite Article – a, an

2. Definite Article – The

1. Indefinite Article: Are used before Nouns which are not introduced before, not specified, general, applicable to any, new, unknown in nature.

For e.g.: I have a car. (Not introduced before)

He is a teacher. (Provides information)

Do you have a computer? (Confirms existence)

‘A’ is used before Nouns starting with consonant sound (not alphabet).

‘An’ is used before Nouns starting with Vowel Sound. (Not alphabet)

For e.g.: A stamp, a desk, a book.

An apple, an orange, an hour, an umbrella, an honest man, an ink-pot


Indefinite articles are used in the below mentioned cases:

i. Before singular, unspecified nouns.

e.g.: An orange, a pencil

ii.      Before number collectives and some numbers.

e.g.: a dozen, a gallon, an ounce

iii. Used before a singular noun that is followed by a modifier.

e.g. : She met a girl who was wearing yellow hat.

iv. Used with nouns to form adverbial phrases of quantity, degree or amount.

e.g.:  I feel a bit depressed.

It’s a tad overwhelming.

It’s a little too much.


2.  Definite Article: ‘The’ is the only definite article used before singular/ plural, countable/uncountable Nouns.

Used in the following cases:

i.   Fore mostly used for a specific Noun mentioned before in the sentence.

e.g.: Please switch off the fan

I like the dress you are wearing.

ii.  Used to indicate a unique Noun.

e.g.: The river Ganges flows right beneath this bridge.

iii. Used to denote a natural phenomenon.

e.g.: The storm lashed across the countryside.

iv.  Used to refer to a distinct time period.

e.g.: The 60’s were known as the swinging 60’s.

I was considered very handsome in the past.

v. Used to indicate all members, carrying the same surname.

e.g.: The petroleum sector was dominated by the Ambanis.

I watched the Simpsons show numerous times.

English Grammar and Composition

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