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 (174 votes)
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Profile picture for user redpanda88

Submitted by redpanda88 on Thu, 06/06/2024 - 12:58


" She has a university degree"

here "university" is used as which part of speech?

Hi redpanda88,

It is a noun. Inside the phrase "a university degree", it functions as an adjective, describing "degree".


LearnEnglish team

Profile picture for user Ivyxoxo

Submitted by Ivyxoxo on Wed, 10/04/2024 - 15:12


Hi, I wanted to ask, should I use a for school or university?

Hi Ivyxoxo,

Generally, use "a", e.g. I live next to a school. I graduated from a university.

But, "a" is omitted in some common phrases: go to school / at school / in school (and the same for university).

I hope that helps.


LearnEnglish team

"University" is a singular countable noun. Although it begins with a vowel, the first sound of the word is /j/ or “y.” Thus, "a" instead of "an" is used

so yes you should

Submitted by m.abo alhassan on Wed, 06/03/2024 - 17:07


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.

The previous sentence has been used above by  the author of the article. In this sentence the author has not written "a" before the word "part" can you explain why?

Hello m.abo alhassan,

In many cases both part of and a part of are possible - and in this example you could use either. In fact, I would say that most people use the two interchangeably.

Sometimes there is a difference. Part of is often used when we are talking about something that is not the whole but is a necessary part of it that cannot be taken away (similar to a section of or a piece of), while a part of is more common when an item is made of many separate elements which are connected together.


As I said, I think the majority of people do not distinguish between the two. It is a subject that generates some discussion, however:



The LearnEnglish Team