1. We use the indefinite article, a/an, with count nouns when the hearer/reader does not know exactly which one we are referring to:

Police are searching for a 14 year-old girl.

2. We also use it to show the person or thing is one of a group:

She is a pupil at London Road School.

 

Police have been searching for a 14 year-old girl who has been missing since Friday.

Jenny Brown, a pupil at London Road School, is described as 1.6 metres tall with short blonde hair.

She was last seen wearing a blue jacket, a blue and white blouse and dark blue jeans and blue shoes. 

Anyone who has information should contact the local police on 0800349781.


3. We do not use an indefinite article with plural nouns and uncount nouns:

She was wearing blue shoes. (= plural noun)
She has short blonde hair. (= uncount noun)

 

Police have been searching for a 14 year-old girl who has been missing since Friday.

Jenny Brown, a pupil at London Road School, is described as 1.6 metres tall with short blonde hair.

She was last seen wearing a blue jacket, a blue and white blouse and dark blue jeans and blue shoes

Anyone who has information should contact the local police on 0800349781.

 


4. We use a/an to say what someone is or what job they do:

My brother is a doctor.
George is a student.

5. We use a/an with a singular noun to say something about all things of that kind:

A man needs friends. (= All men need friends)
A dog likes to eat meat. (= All dogs like to eat meat)

 Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hi, teacher. Can you please tell me if the following sentences are correct? Can I skip the article for cup and jug?

1. She bought a bottle, a cup and a jug.
2. She bought a bottle, cup and jug.

Thank you.

Omy

Hello Omyhong,

Both sentences are correct. In 2, the three items sound as if they are a unit more than in 1 (e.g. perhaps they are sold together, though not necessarily), but in most cases the two sentences would mean the same thing.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you sir for your explanation. Can you help me with another question.
I am confused of the following sentences.
1. He disliked taking bath.
2. He disliked taking a bath.
3. He promised that he would take bath every day.
4. He promised that he would take a bath every day.

My question is it is a must to put a before bath?
Thank you sir.

Hello Omyhong,

Yes, in both cases, you must use 'a'. There are two ways you can look at this. The first is that 'bath' is a singular count noun, and normally some kind of article is used before singular count nouns. You could also think of 'take a bath' as a kind of fixed expression -- it's just the way we say this.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Can I just write 'Dog likes to eat meat' rather than 'A dog likes to eat meat'? Is it grammatically correct?

Hello Itnay,

No, I'm afraid that isn't grammatically correct. Of course, most people will understand what you are saying but in terms of the grammar it is incorrect.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Why don't we use any article before the noun 'Difficulty' and Are there such more nouns before which we don't use any article ? Please help...

Hello SonuKumar,

'Difficulty' is usually uncountable so the indefinite article is rare, but it is possible. The definite article is quite common. Whether or not an article is required depends upon the context, of course.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

On which basis do we separate words having 'mute h' & 'pronounced h'?

hello amol,

'an' is always used before words with a true silent 'h' (e.g. 'heir', 'honest', 'hour') at the beginning. When a word begins with an 'h' that is pronounced, there is a group that traditionally was preceded by 'an' (e.g. 'historical', 'hotel' -- these words come from French), but my impression is that most native speakers use 'a' before these words these days. That's how I'd encourage you to pronounce them.

If you're not sure how to pronounce a word, the Cambridge Dictionary has audio files for most -- see 'hour' for example.

By the way, please do not post your questions more than once. It can take us time -- days, even -- to answer your comments and posting them a second time will only delay our answer.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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