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 (172 votes)

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

Hello again Vivek,

Articles are contextual, but your sentences are decontextualised so we can only guess about what knowledge is shared. In general, a person says 'the bank' most of the time because they mean 'the bank where I have my account'. That's probably the case here, but without knowing the wider context in which the sentences are used we are only speculating.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vivek on Mon, 25/10/2021 - 15:03


Sir, in this sentence
1)The debtor has to compensate the primary loss in the suit(law suit)
2)Then, the debtors has to pay for the additional cost in such suit.
I got this sentence from a book.
And I want to ask you that which in second sentence such is used instead of( the).
Is (the suit) correct here.

Hi Vivek,

Yes, you can say 'the suit' instead of 'such suit' in sentence 2! Both phrases refer to the suit mentioned before. 'Such' is more formal in style.

You can read more about this meaning of 'such' on this Cambridge Dictionary page. See the "Such meaning ‘of this or that kind’" section.

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vivek on Thu, 21/10/2021 - 20:53


Thank you for your previous explanation.
Sir, suppose I am inside a train and there I want to ask a person that where the train is going so what should I use,
1) where the train is going
2)where this train is going
Thanks In advance

Hello Vivek,

I would recommend the form with 'this', though please note the correct word order is 'Where is this train going?'

The reason 'this' is better than 'the' here is that you haven't yet spoken about the train with this person. If you say 'the', a person might not know for sure which train you're talking about. Perhaps it seems obvious, but in English it sounds strange.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vivek on Thu, 21/10/2021 - 06:30


Sarvya siksha abhiyan is an Indian program. The program was launched in 2001.This program aims at providing elementary education for all childrens.
Sir, why in this sentence the program and this program both are used. Is this a correct paragraph. What is the logic behind it as use of ARTICLES