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.

Jobs

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 (171 votes)

Submitted by PEKO on Tue, 31/10/2023 - 11:16

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I am a teacher.
have you seen the English book?

Submitted by Sefika on Sat, 21/10/2023 - 17:09

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Which one of the following is used in English (apart from "Block E" or "Building E")?
a) She lives in E Block/Building).
b) She lives in the E Block/Building).
Do you use the definite article "the" before the letter "E" or another letter used before "Block" or "Building"?
Thank you in advance.

Hello Sefika,

As you suggest, 'Block E' and 'Building E' are the most common. Of the others, the first one (a) is quite common. The second (b) is not likely.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user hasnaa sakr

Submitted by hasnaa sakr on Thu, 19/10/2023 - 19:09

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I have seen this movie for an hour.

I will eat a lump of meat in my lunch today.

I will take the dog for a walk.

the stakeholder is very picky.

Submitted by alessia baltis on Wed, 18/10/2023 - 14:30

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Hello! Thank you for this useful website. In the sentence "if you want to be a player or a member..", should i put an "a" before "member" or not? Thank you.

Hi alessia baltis,

It's correct both ways! It's your choice whether to repeat "a" or not. 

Thanks for your question. We are very glad to hear that you find the website useful!

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by sherry on Fri, 06/10/2023 - 12:39

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Hello! I noticed many grammatical errors on a facial cream I recently bought. English being my second language, I am not entirely sure that I'm being just in this judgement of mine. Please see below the places that I found troublesome:

1. Formula contains ceramide (...), visibly reduces skin irritation (...), and restore skin barrier. Eventually to help the skin stay hydrated (...)
2. Apply the cream to the clean and dry face.

My corrections would be:
1. Formula (...) and RESTORES (THE?) skin barrier, eventually helping the skin stay hydrated (...)
2. Apply the cream to clean and dry face.

Please let me know what you think.

Many many thanks.

Sherry

Hello Sherry,

Instructions of this kind are often full of errors as they are generally translated automatically.

Your first correction is fine - well done!

For the second one we'd say 'to a clean and dry face' or 'clean and dry your face before applying'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Biskwit on Mon, 02/10/2023 - 12:18

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From singular nouns above

"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."

Ive used [] as my copy and paste won't allow me to do italic or bold. I have a feeling the 'explanation' is incorrect, the examples are correct... or am I missing something.