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 (155 votes)

Submitted by SHAILESH TIPNIS on Sat, 26/09/2020 - 19:55

Hello teacher, "Is there a university where you live?" In the above question, we use the article "a" before the word "university" in spite it starts from the vowel sound "u". So please explain what would be the correct "a" or "an" and why in the above example.


We use a before consonant sounds and an before vowel sounds. However, you need to remember that some words begin with a vowel (letter) but are pronounced with a consonant sound first. University is like this. The first sound is /j/, which is the same sound as at the beginning of words like you, year and yellow. That is why we say a university not an.



The LearnEnglish Team

hey Pedro, listen something is not allowing me to post comments. I am not sure what it is?? help me please. Thanks.

Hello Celso Jaya Cabrera,

We moderate all comments before they are published. We normally do this at least a couple of times each day, but this means that some hours can pass before everyone can see your published comments on the site.

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The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by nel on Thu, 24/09/2020 - 01:28

Could you please give me another example like : "a university"

Hello nel,

Certainly. Here are some examples: a union, a united group, a unique painting, a universal truth.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SergeySSSS on Mon, 14/09/2020 - 07:03

In the first exercise, I did many mistakes but when I read the rule I remember that I was learning already. Conclusion I did completely the next tasks.
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Submitted by Elhamshojaei on Sun, 13/09/2020 - 05:59

Hi, May i ask questions ? who answer me? and how?

Hi Elhamshojaei,

Yes, you can ask questions. In fact, you just did!

We read all comments before they are published on the page. If you have a question then we'll try to answer. We don't provide answers to tasks from elsewhere - after all, we don't want to do people's homework for them - but we are happy to answer questions about the information on our pages or about English more generally if we can.


If you do ask a question, please remember that we are a small team here and it may take us a day or two to answer it. We ask users to keep questions short and relevant to the topic of the page. If a question is too long then we may not answer it, as we have to deal with a lot of questions every day.



The LearnEnglish Team