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)

Hi cms10,

In this context you can use either 'a' or 'the' in each sentence. You can see it as one of many rights ('a right') or as a particular right which is specified in the sentence ('the right). It's really up to the speaker.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Risa warysha on Mon, 29/06/2020 - 17:49

Hi Sir, Could you help me with this? She is a woman that I admire. She is the woman that I admire. Which is the correct sentence? Or both the sentence above are fine? The next question: What is the difference between these following sentence -She is the one who should be blamed. - she is a person who should be blamed. Thank you,sir
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Tue, 30/06/2020 - 07:46

In reply to by Risa warysha


Hello Risa Warysha,

Both of the first two sentences are fine, though only one or the other would be appropriate in specific situations. In general, we use 'a' when are mentioning this woman for the first time and 'the' after that.

As for the other two sentences, the first one suggests that she is the only person, whereas the second one suggests there could be more than one person.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jeje on Fri, 29/05/2020 - 23:54

Hello sir, I want to know please why we used the article ( a) a not (an) in the following question : Is there a university where you live ?

Hello jeje

As the explanation says, we use 'a' when the word that follows it begins with a consonant sound. 'university' begins with the /j/ sound -- you can hear it on this dictionary page

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

You're absolutely right Jeje. U is a vowel, but the sound it makes is a consonant, so it is in fact like a word starting with a consonant and not a vowel. You pronounce university: yuniversity with a y at the beginning. Try saying 'an university' and see for yourself how awkward it is!

Submitted by Aguirre79 on Fri, 22/05/2020 - 20:54

Hi Sir! I have a question! Why the sentence "money he gave me was not enough" is correct without "the". Because in the sentence I understand, that he refers an specific money (the money he gave him), so, why we can not use "th" before the money?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 24/05/2020 - 07:25

In reply to by Aguirre79


Hi Aguirre79,

The correct answer to that question is 'The', not no article. I'm not sure why you think no article is correct.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gelebishokarma on Fri, 15/05/2020 - 11:10

It is very nice to me to get this listen. I don't get this sentence. The teachers at my son's school are great. This is my uncle Philp. He's a teacher and he lives in London He doesn't like dogs. One bit nim when he was Child. I'm going to take the dog for a walk. Difference The dog. (no the) dogs. The teachers. (no the) a teacher. I would like be clear with this thank you.

Hello Gelebishokarma

'teachers' refers to more than one teacher (in the first sentence, all the teachers in the school) and 'teacher' refers to just one teacher (in the second sentence, Philip).

'dogs' refers to the animal in general, that is, all dogs. He doesn't like any dog anywhere because one dog bit him when he was a child. But the man going on the walk is going with just one dog, not all dogs.

Does that make sense?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team