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 (141 votes)

Submitted by quydohmu on Fri, 21/04/2023 - 02:00


family tree is a drawing that shows the relationships between the different members of a family, especially over a long period of time

Can you explain the reason why "the" is used to be in phrases " the relationships" and "the different members of a family". I think I won't use article in the case.

Hello quydohmu,

You could omit the article before 'members' here but I think it's more natural to include it. 'The' is very common when a noun is followed by 'of...' as the 'of...' identifies which items we are talking about: not just members in general, but the particular members of a family.

The question to ask with definite articles is 'do we know which ones we are taking about?' For example, the sentence uses 'the relationships' because it tells us which relationships ('...between the different members...') and 'the members' because it tells us which members ('...of a family').



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by quydohmu on Tue, 18/04/2023 - 13:46


IELTS speaking test is a face-to-face interview between the test taker and the examiner, which lasts from 10 to 15 minutes and has 3 sections

Can you explain "the" in phrase " the test taker" and " the exmaniner". I think that I use " a test taker and an examiner" because i don't know who an examiner is

Hello quydohmu,

You could also say 'a test taker' and 'an examiner' and that would be correct. Sometimes we use 'the' when describing a typical situation; I expect that is why 'the' is used here. It is also correct, but in normal conversation, 'a' or 'an' is probably more common.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Youness.K on Sat, 15/04/2023 - 02:32


My mom eat neither mushrooms nor shellfishes.
is this sentence correct ?

Hello Youness.K,

The sentence is almost correct. After 'My mom' you need the third-person form so it should be 'eats' and not 'eat'. Other than that, it's fine.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Aona on Wed, 12/04/2023 - 00:28



Can you please let me know is this sentence is grammatically correct:

Baby cries a lot.

I'm confused because I'm not sure that the word "baby" in this sentence can be without an article? Our teacher used this sentence alone to explain 3rd person singular in Present Simple tense.

Thank you all!

Hello Aona,

Normally we'd use an article here (either 'a' or 'the' could work depending on the situation), or if we're making a general statement, use the plural ('Babies cry').

I expect your teacher was trying to give a simple example that focused on the verb form.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Tahtooha on Sun, 09/04/2023 - 13:47


It's a good lesson. But, I guess I Still need some practice.
Thanks for helping.

Submitted by imane_ben on Sat, 11/03/2023 - 13:11


Can someone explain to me why we didn t use THE in this example :
1. I like listening to
- music. It helps me relax.
Thank you so much 🙏