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An article is a word used to modify a noun, which is a person, place, object, or idea.
Articles are of two types. They are
- Indefinite article —- A / An
- Definite article —- The
What’s the difference?
If you want to say about particular item, you should use the articles A or An. If you want to say about a SPECIFIC item, you should use the article THE.
Indefinite Articles :
A : The indefinite article ‘a’ is used before singular countable nouns that start with a Consonant sound.
An : The indefinite article ‘an” is used before singular countable nouns that start with a Vowel sound.
- A Bat
- A Cat
- A Rat
- A Jug
- An Apple
- An Egg
- AN Ink-Bottle
- An Orange
- An Umbrella
Kindly Re-Read the definitions. Here we are talking about Vowel and Consonant SOUNDS. Not the Letters. People often confuse with this. They blindly put A before a word, if it starts with a Vowel letter (A, E, I, O, U) and put An before the word which starts with the consonant letter.
Consider the SOUND, not the LETTER.
Lets see a short cut for this.
- If a word starts with a SWAR (Any of the Indian Language) sound, then we should use An before it.
- If a word starts with a Vyanjan (An of the Indian Language) sound, then we should use A before it.
Have a look at this picture,
so, now see these examples,
- A European
- A One-Eyed beggar
- A University
- A Useful Website
- An hour
- An Honest Man
- An honourable person
Now lets see some more TRICKY examples in English.
Suppose , if you want to say about the Member of Parliament, you can say a Member of Parliament, But if you use shorter form as M.P, Then you should say, He is an M.P
Lets see another example, He is an NRI but He is a Non Resident India
Rules of Articles (Indefinite & Definite) in English for Competitive Exams
- Indefinite (A, An)
- Definite (The)
Rules of Articles – Indefinite Articles:
‘A‘ & ‘An‘ are called the indefinite articles, as they don’t refer to a particular thing or person.
Use of ‘A’:
(1) If a consonant is the first letter of a countable singular common noun, we use ‘A’ before it.
For example; a book, a man etc. ‘A’ is used before some
(2) ‘A’ is used before some indefinite numbers.
For example; a lot of, a number of, a large number of, a half of, a quarter of
(3) ‘A’ can be used before some indefinite collective numbers.
For example; a team of doctors, a gang of ghosts, a folk of birds, a herd of sheep etc.
(4) If an adjective is followed by a singular noun, we use ‘A’ before that adjective.
For example; Rahul is a good (adjective) student (noun)
(5) ‘A’ is used at the place of ‘per’.
For example; Mangoes are sold at 100 rupees a kg
(6) To show the whole class of common noun we may use ‘A’ before a common noun.
For example; All birds have two wings. → A bird has two wings.
(7) If we use article ‘A’ before a plural number, the forthcoming noun becomes singular.
For example; a five-day match, a two-mile walk
(8) ‘A’ is used before these words start with a vowel.
For example; a university, a unique film, a one-rupee note, a one-act play, a union, a European, a one-eyed person, a one-sided decision
(9) If a noun is placed after such, how, rather, quite etc., we use ‘A’ before that noun.
For example; I have never seen such painting in my life. (wrong)
→ I have never seen such a painting in my life. (correct)
(10) If these words (Noise, Lie, Hole, Headache etc.) are used in as singular, we use ‘A’ before them.
For example; The students make noise in the class. (wrong)
→ The students make a noise in the class. (correct)
Use of ‘An’:
(1) We can use ‘An’, before the nouns or words starting with a vowel.
For example; Riya is an intelligent (‘i’ is a vowel) girl.
(2) ‘An’ is used before some ‘H’ starting words in which ‘H’ is not pronounciate.
For example; An honest man, An hour, An heir, An honorable person, An homage to dead
(3) If H, L M, N, F, R, S, X are the first letters of abbreviations, we use ‘An’ before them.
For example; An M.L.A, An H.S. school, An F.R.C.S. girl etc.
The omission of Indefinite articles:
(1) Indefinite articles cannot be used two times for the same noun in a sentence.
- Vivekananda was a saint and a hero. (wrong)
- Vivekananda was a saint and hero. (correct)
- Vivekananda was both a saint and a hero. (correct)
- Sneha is neither a dancer nor a painter. (correct)
(2) Indefinite articles should not be used before the name of meals.
- Ram was present at a dinner. (wrong)
- Ram was present at dinner. (correct)
NOTE: But if we use an adjective before the name of meals, we use indefinite articles before the adjective.
- It was tasteful dinner. (wrong)
- It was a tasteful dinner. (correct)
(3) We can not use articles after ‘what kind of’ and ‘what sort of’.
- What kind of a boy he is. (wrong)
- What kind of boy he is. (correct)
(4) Followings are some uncountable -nouns, we should not use indefinite articles before them.
Example; Furniture, Stationery, Poetry, Scenery, Damage, Luggage, Baggage, Perfumery, Postage, Traffic, Offspring, Information, Advice, Abuse, Telephone.
Rules of Articles – Definite Articles:
‘The‘ is called the definite article as it points out a particular thing or person.
For example; He visited the lawyer. (means one particular lawyer)
Use of ‘The’:
(1) ‘The’ is used before a noun if the noun is used before relative pronoun stressed.
- He is a boy who dances well. (wrong)
- He is theboy who dances well. (correct)
(2) ‘The’ is used after ‘one of‘, ‘each of‘, ‘either of‘, ‘neither of‘, ‘none of‘, ‘everyone of‘ etc.
- Neither of contestants performs well. (wrong)
- Neither of thecontestants performs well. (correct)
(3) ‘The’ is used before the name of Commissions.
- Election Commission is a Constitutional autonomous body. (wrong)
- TheElection Commission is a Constitutional autonomous body. (correct)
(4) If an adjective is followed by a proper noun, use ‘the’ before that adjective.
- We respect immortal Swamiji. (wrong)
- We respect theimmortal Swamiji. (correct)
(5) We use ‘The’ before the names of–
- Rivers (The Ganga, The Yamuna etc.)
- Seas (The Arabian Sea, The Bay of Bengal etc.)
- Deserts (The Sahara etc.)
- Canals (The Agra canal, The Western Yamuna canal etc)
- Group of Islands (The Hawaiian Islands, The Antilles etc.)
- Series of Mountains (The Himalayan mountain etc.)
- Religious books (The Bible etc)
- Holy Scriptures (The Bible)
- Community (The Hindu, The Sikhs etc.)
- Planes ( The Kingfisher Airlines)
- Ships (The Titanic)
- Stars (The Sun, The Polaris etc.)
- Newspapers (The Times of India, The Statesman etc.)
- Musical Instruments (The Guitar, The Piano etc.)
(6) If two proper nouns are compared, we use ‘the’ before the last proper noun.
For example; Kalidas (1st proper noun) is the Shakespeare (2nd proper noun) of India.
(7) We use ‘The’ before ordinals.
For example; the former, the last, the second etc.
(8) ‘The’ is used before the names of Historical Buildings & Monuments.
For example; The Tajmahal, The Charminar, The Lotus Temple etc.
(9) Before the name of Countries & Organisations.
For example; The United States of America, The World Health Organisation etc.
(10) ** ‘The’ must be used before superlative degree.
For example; Sachin Tendulkar is the best batsman in the world.