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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

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The indefinite article 2

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The indefinite article 3

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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

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Comments

Hello lourub!
 
If you use a or an in the sentence (She is a nurse), then you don't need an article with plurals (They are nurses).

If you use the to show a particular nurse (The nurse is coming), you still need to use the (The nurses are coming).

Hope that helps!
 
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

I would like to ask you why a woman is all things of that kind.Could you explain that please?
 

Because, in this contest, "a woman" refer to all woman, and just woman, is right to this job. I think it. 
 

Hi 
Could you please explain for me why no articles put in the front of white blouse on part 3? 
 
  a blue and white blouse and dark blue jeans.
 
Kind Regards

Hi Azad,
There is an article: it's in front of 'blue'! The blouse is blue and white, so the article goes before both adjectives.
Another example would be 'a black and white dog' or you could talk about 'a sweet and sour sauce'. Does that help?
Best wishes,
Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

hi
good exercise 

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