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 Sameer Mankoo on Sun, 04/04/2021 - 12:18

Let me change the clothes. Let me Watch the television. Let me take the medicine. Let me help the poor. Let me tie a turban. Can you tell these examples are correct? If I'm wrong tell me Why?

Hello Sameer Mankoo,

Those are all grammatically correct, but remember that the use of articles, especially the definite article, is highly dependent on context. The definite article expresses shared knowledge between the speaker and the listener, so their relationship to each other, to the world in general and to the specific context in which they are speaking are all important.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sameer Mankoo on Sun, 04/04/2021 - 11:23

4. Could you please pass me salt? Why ' the ' is used here. Can anyone tell me the reason?

Hello Sameer Mankoo,

The idea is that when we say this, we are sitting at the table with other people and the salt is on the table. It's something we can all see and I can assume that the person I say this to knows what I am referring to.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

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.