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 Bhavna on Tue, 05/05/2020 - 18:13

She became queen in 1947. Why any Determiner has not been used in above sentence?

Hello Bhavna,

When we use certain title to describe positions which can be attained and we use certain verbs (be, become, be named, be made), we often do not use the definite article. Thus we say:

She become queen in 1947.

He was named king.

Note that while sometimes these words are not capitalised in this context, it is more usual to capitalise them:

She become Queen in 1947.

He was named King.


You can read a discussion of the topic here:



The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Filip2122

Submitted by Filip2122 on Sat, 02/05/2020 - 18:31

Hello sir, Why the sentence ''I like listening to a music'' is wrong?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 03/05/2020 - 07:34

In reply to by Filip2122


Hello Filip2122,

'Music' is an uncountable noun, so we do not use the article 'a' before it. The correct sentence is I like listening to music.


You can read more about uncountable nouns here:


You can read about countable nouns here:



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rizzu8888 on Sat, 04/04/2020 - 17:12

Hello sir, I always read that indefinite articles are only used with countable nouns then I have gone through some sentences,they have used differently,how it is possible,please sir explain in detail. Follow the sentences. 1) Julie has a beautiful smile. How a is used in the above sentence bco there is no countable noun,please tell me how a works here and tell me the role of a. 2)I have a lot of love for him. Similarly here also how a is used in the above sentence,I dont understand. Please expalin in detail. Thanks.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 05/04/2020 - 06:54

In reply to by rizzu8888


Hello rizzu8888,

The indefinite article is used with countable nouns rather than with plural nouns or uncountable nouns.


In your first sentence, the countable noun is smile. The adjective beautiful describes this noun.


In your second sentence, a is not used as an article, but rather as part of a phrase which is a quantifier (a phrase which tells us how much of something we have). The phrase is a lot of and it functions in the same way as other quantifiers like some and lots of.

Some quantifiers can be used with only plural countable nouns, some with only uncountable nouns and some with both. A lot of can be used with both. Here, the noun is love, which is uncountable.


You can read more about quantifiers on this page:



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Sat, 04/04/2020 - 09:33

Hello Sir Re: do/did Thank you very much for explaining the above 'do' or 'did' Please tell me the sentence given below is grammatically correct or not. e.g., Did you know that my uncle had bought another car? Thank you.. Regards Lal
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sat, 04/04/2020 - 15:46

In reply to by Lal


Hello Lal

Yes, that is correct -- well done!

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 14:55

Hello Sir Re:Do or Did e.g. Did you know that Mozart could play the piano by the time he was five ? Instead of 'did' can't we say 'Do you know... Is it wrong to use 'do' in the above sentence and similar sentences? Please let me know. Thank you. Regards Lal Thank you. Regards Lal

Hello Lal,

It's normal to use did in questions like this. The past tense is used because the speaker is giving the information in the question, so by the end of the question we know that the other person knows.

It's not wrong to use do but it's much less common.



The LearnEnglish Team