Grammar & ESL: Using Articles (a, an, the)

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16 Questions

What is the purpose of using articles a, an, and the in sentences?

To indicate whether the noun is used in an indefinite or definite way

Which of the following is an incorrect use of 'a'?

They talked about a good restaurants

When should you use 'an' before a noun?

Before a noun starting with a vowel sound

What is the correct usage of 'the'?

To indicate a specific or single noun

When do you use 'a' instead of 'an'?

When the noun starts with a consonant sound

What happens when a word starts with 'u' or 'h'?

Use 'a' or 'an' depending on the sound of the word

Which of the following sentences is correct?

I need a history book to study for the exam

What is the main difference between 'a' and 'an'?

'A' is used for nouns starting with consonant sounds, and 'an' is used for nouns starting with vowel sounds

Which of the following proper nouns does not use an article?

Lake Superior

What is the correct way to write the sentence 'I went to New York City'?

I went to New York City

When do you use 'a' or 'an' to introduce a noun?

The first time it is mentioned and then the is used afterwards

What is the correct way to write the sentence 'I went to the Fourth of July party'?

I went to the Fourth of July party

Which of the following geographical features uses the article?

The Gobi Desert

What is the correct way to write the sentence 'I like the Chicago Bulls'?

I like the Chicago Bulls

What is the correct way to write the sentence 'I am a member of the Society of Friends'?

I am a member of the Society of Friends

What should you do when trying to decide whether to use an article?

Ask for help

Study Notes

Articles: a, an, the

Indefinite Articles: a, an

  • Used to indicate a single item
  • "a" is used before a consonant sound
    • Examples: a book, a hospital, a leg, a one-inch pipe, a youth
  • "an" is used before a vowel sound
    • Examples: an apple, an opera, an eagle, an idea, an SOS

Using a and an

  • Use "a" or "an" for general nouns
    • Examples: Take a pencil, I won a hundred dollars
  • Do not use "a" or "an" with plural nouns
    • Incorrect: "They talked about a good restaurants"
    • Correct: "They talked about a good restaurant to visit"
  • Use "a" or "an" for unspecific references
    • Examples: He likes to read a book, That was a funny story

Definite Article: the

  • Used to indicate a specific noun or something that is one of a kind
  • Use "the" for specific references to common nouns
    • Examples: Give me the book on the table, The sun rose at seven o'clock
  • Use "a" or "an" to introduce a noun, and then "the" is used afterwards
    • Examples: I bought a sandwich for lunch. I shared the sandwich with my friend

Using the with Proper Nouns

  • Most proper nouns do not use an article
    • Examples: New York City, Walt Disney, The United States of America
  • Exceptions: proper nouns with "of" as part of the name
    • Examples: the Fourth of July, the University of Virginia, the United States of America
  • Plural proper nouns use "the"
    • Examples: the Chicago Bulls, the Johnsons, the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Proper nouns that name a group (a collective noun) also use "the"
    • Examples: the Commonwealth of Virginia, the United Arab Emirates, the Society of Friends
  • Some geographical features use "the"
    • Examples: the Gobi Desert, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pyramids, the Amazon
  • Some geographical features do not use "the"
    • Examples: Lake Superior, Albemarle County, Route 29, Mount Vesuvius

Learn how to use articles 'a', 'an', and 'the' to indicate whether a noun is general or specific. Practice using indefinite articles with single items and plural nouns.

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