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)

Sir see ,again you used" this sentence sounds like... " in your answer. I want to ask you why you use this sentence as I already know which sentence is being taught about

Hi Vivek,

We can use both 'the' and 'this' (and also, in a formal style, 'such') if we already know which thing is being talked about. It's important to understand that both words have this meaning (not only 'the').

I could also have used 'the sentence' instead of 'this sentence'. The meaning is the same. Comparatively, 'this' refers to the sentence with a little more emphasis than 'the'.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vivek on Sat, 30/10/2021 - 21:19


As we know that article the is used when we know that which thing is taught about or when the thing is already mention before so in this example
1)i am a resident of hollingdon city. The roads in this city are very poor.
Sir, why here( this city) is used why not the city as we have already mentioned which city earlier

Hi Vivek,

We can use both words (the / this) for this purpose (i.e., to refer to something already mentioned before). It would be fine to say 'The roads in the city ...' as well. :)

Somebody might also say 'this city' if they are in the city when they say this sentence. 'This' helps to emphasise the fact that they are talking about the place where they are.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vivek on Fri, 29/10/2021 - 07:49


I have a confusing doubt that is
Example : suppose I am searching for a page in google.
So, why it gives a message like "you can't access this page"
Why not it shows "you can't access the page"
As I already know which page is taught about .

Hello Vivek,

Is that really what it says? I think Google usually gives results, even if they are not what you're looking for.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vivek on Wed, 27/10/2021 - 20:18


Sir, as you said we use article the when listener and speaker both know which things is being taught about so according to this rule.
1)yesterday I was in Rajdhani express(indian train). The train was running late by 2 hrs.
Here, the train is correct and also sounds good.
2) I am a resident of bond street. The cleanliness of this street is not up to the satisfaction.
Here, in 2nd sentence why (this street) is written why not the street bcz I have already mentioned about the street in first line.

Submitted by Vivek on Wed, 27/10/2021 - 18:38


1) question number 1 is wrong please correct the question
2)question number 1 is wrong please correct that question
Which is correct and why

Hello Vivek,

As we've said before, we generally use 'this' and 'that' when we need to clearly differentiate between different items - this one and not that one, for example. I think 'the' is the most likely option here, but it would depend on the speaker's intention and the broader context in which the sentences occur.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vivek on Wed, 27/10/2021 - 06:11


Sir,suppose both me and the listener knows which bank I am taking about.
Take an example
1) I am going to the bank. Here this sentence is true with (the). but,
2) I will never go the bank.
Suppose I want to talk about the same bank in second sentence why there( the bank)
Sounds bad.
Thank you