Articles: 'a', 'an', 'the'

Articles: 'a', 'an', 'the'

Do you know how to use a, an and the? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how articles are used.

She's a doctor.
I need an umbrella.
Have you heard the news?
I don't like spiders.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Grammar test 1: Articles 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Here are some of the most important things to know about using articles.


When we say what people's jobs are, we usually use a/an.

He's an architect.
She's a scientist.
My grandmother was a teacher.

Singular nouns

Singular, countable nouns always have an article – a/an or the (or another determiner – my, your, this, that, etc.).

We use a/an – the indefinite article – when we talk about something for the first time, or something that is part of a group or type.

I saw a good film yesterday.
Do you want a drink?

We use a when the word that follows it begins with a consonant sound. We use an when it's followed by a vowel sound. This makes pronunciation easier.

She has a university degree.
It took me an hour to get home.

We use the – the definite article – when the listener already knows which thing we are talking about because it was mentioned before or because there's only one of them.

I'm going to take the dog for a walk.
Have you seen the car key?
They go to the school next to the bridge.

Things in general

When we talk about things in general, we normally use a plural or uncountable noun with no article.

Birds eat worms.
Water freezes at 0°C.
Children need a lot of sleep.

Particular groups of things

When we talk about a particular group of things, we use the.

We went to the zoo and saw the kangaroos. (These are the particular kangaroos in that zoo – not kangaroos in general.)

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Grammar test 2: Articles 1

Average: 4 (174 votes)

Submitted by Kbtnix on Wed, 01/04/2020 - 11:12

do mosquitos same mosquitoes and what is the diffrnce between them?

Hello Kbtnix,

Both mosquitoes and mosquitos are acceptable plural forms. There is no difference between them.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir. Please explain the sentence below. Keep a safe distance. How 'a' works here bcoz there is no countable noun.
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Tue, 07/04/2020 - 10:23

In reply to by rizzu8888


Hello rizzu8888

'distance' can be used as a count noun and also as a noncount noun. Here it is obviously used as a count noun.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

What I've found on The plural of mosquito can be either mosquitos or mosquitoes. Unfortunately, there is no clever way of knowing which nouns ending o follow which rules. You have to know. (For example, you have to know that solo becomes solos, but tomatos becomes tomatoes.) Though mosquitos and mosquitoes are both accepted plurals, mosquitoes is the more common of the two.

Submitted by Lal on Sun, 29/03/2020 - 07:45

Hallo Sir Re: definite article 'the' The mother divided the cake among her three sons. Mother divided the cake among her three sons. Please let me know whether it is all right to use 'the' before 'mother' Thank you. Regards Lal
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sun, 29/03/2020 - 14:04

In reply to by Lal


Hello Lal

Both of those sentences can be correct, depending on what you mean. In the first one, the woman dividing the cake is not the speaker's mother, whereas in the second one she is.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by a3009281507 on Fri, 20/03/2020 - 08:57

very good learning