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The indefinite article: 'a' and 'an'

Level: beginner

We use the indefinite article, a/an, with singular nouns when the listener/reader does not know exactly which one we are referring to:

Police are searching for a 14-year-old girl.

We also use it to show that the person or thing is one of a group:

She is a pupil at London Road School.

Police have been looking for a 14-year-old girl who has been missing since Friday.

Jenny Brown is a pupil at London Road School. She is 1.6 metres tall, with short, blonde hair. When she left home, she was wearing a blue jacket, a blue and white blouse, dark blue jeans and blue shoes. 

Anyone who has information should contact the local police on 0800 349 781.

We do not use an indefinite article with plural nouns or uncount nouns:

She was wearing blue shoes. (plural noun)
She has short, blonde hair. (uncount noun)

The indefinite article 1


The indefinite article 2


The indefinite article 3


We use a before a consonant sound:

a banana (starts with /b/) a university (starts with /j/)

and an before a vowel sound:

an orange (starts with /o/) an hour (starts with /au/)

Note that the choice of a or an depends on sound, not spelling.

The indefinite article 4




i like it too


Just note: my dear the Americans grammar is different then English grammar in UK.

I saw two example sentences in (the? an?) Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
'The name Chanel became 'a' byword for elegance.'
'She became queen in 1592'
There are an article in the first sentence but there are no article in the second sentence.
Why in the second sentence does not any article exist?

I am already crazy!!!

 English grammar drives me crazy! I'm always confusing....  :p

Any way , this is very helpful , thanks British Council!

 Thanks.It is so useful.

i am so happy that i have discovered such site like yours. thanks a lot for your methods of teaching and  the way you present the grammar material.
i have a question for you. why did not you enlarge the material concerning the theme "indefinite articles a, an "?

Hi Gysya,
What extra material do you want? Are you looking for more explanations or more practice activities?
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

I really like your lessons,but i have to ask you , why in the last senstence of the 1st framework there is no article "a" ?is it tsimiliar with the last sentence of the 2nd?
thank you!