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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BTW which stands for “By The Way is used in everyday life.
- I think we've discussed everything we need to - by the way, what time is it?
- I hope you enjoyed your holiday in Florida - btw, can you recommend a good hotel?

Submitted by Nivonshi on Fri, 09/12/2022 - 04:20


I have a question why we doesn't use the before countries?

Hello Nivonshi,

We do use articles before some countries:

  • Countries with plural names take 'the': the Netherlands, the Philippines and the Seychelles, for example.
  • Countries whose names are political descriptions: the United States, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, the People's Republic of China, for example.

Other countries are treated as proper names and so have no article.



The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Yousry Elseadawy

Submitted by Yousry Elseadawy on Fri, 21/10/2022 - 22:41


Thank you for this clear and easy-to-follow explanation!

Submitted by JameK on Mon, 10/10/2022 - 11:13


I still don't understand that to say something about all the things referred to by a noun. Could you explain me more or with other words:").

(I saw snakes in a zoo.)
In the above sentences why we omitted the article 'the'.Are they not particular snakes in that zoo.Please explain me Sir.

Hello JameK,

I'd suggest you have a look at more examples. You can find some on The definite article: 'the', for example. The situation makes a big difference when we decide to use an article or not.

In the example you ask about, it's probably not so much that they are speaking about particular snakes, but rather that it's the first time they are talking about snakes. If the speaker said 'I saw the snakes in the zoo', it means that those two people have already talked about some specific snakes in a specific zoo.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team