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 (140 votes)

Submitted by Wasim Mamunn Sirajee on Sat, 27/03/2021 - 16:53

"The project has helped to decrease the rate of early marriage of (the) girl students in India." Is it a correct sentence?

Hello Wasim Mamunn Sirajee,

Yes, the sentence is grammatically correct.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mike210801 on Fri, 12/03/2021 - 14:17

Hi! Can you explain to me why question 8 in the grammar test 2 use the article when the noun is plural?

Hi Mike210801,

The article used there is 'the' and there is no reason why you cannot use 'the' with plural nouns.

We do not use 'a' with plural nouns, but 'the' can be used with singular or plural.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by M Sha on Wed, 03/03/2021 - 22:57

Hi all, I am new to the group. Hope all are fine in this pandemic. I use Grammarly keyboard and while I type the following sentence, They go to the school next to the bridge. Grammarly detects a mistake and recommends to remove “the” before school. Could anyone please help! Thanks.

Hello M Sha,

There's an explanation of when to use and not to use 'the' before words like 'school' on the Articles 2 page. I imagine that you should use 'the' here, but I'd need to know more about the situation you are talking about to say this with confidence.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish

Profile picture for user Marie-Ann_2021

Submitted by Marie-Ann_2021 on Fri, 22/01/2021 - 12:13

Hello, could you explain, please, why 'an' is used before 'responsibilities', as it is a noun in plural, in the sentence 'A contract of employment is a document that details an employee's and employer's responsibilities for a particular job' ? Thank you.

Hi Marie-Ann_2021,

Good question! Actually, an is related to employee and employer, not to responsibilities. The rephrased sentence below shows this more clearly:

  • A contract of employment is a document that details the responsibilities of an employee and employer for a particular job.

In your sentence, the whole phrase an employee's and employer's is the determiner, not just an. Does that make sense?


The LearnEnglish Team

Aww, I see. Thank you, Jonathan! Your explanation was very helpful for me! Many thanks!