Learn the rules and study the e examples.
Articles are words which go before nouns and their function is to show if a noun is either specific or general. Let’s study the different types of articles:
The Definite Article: ‘The’
‘The’ is the definite article and it is used to refer to a specific noun. It can be used with singular, plural, and uncountable nouns. Examples:
- Please use the correct form to submit theapplication. (singular)
- The final results will be released in November. (plural)
- Fish breathe the oxygen in the water. (uncountable)
‘The’ can also be used in these cases:
- When there is only one thing of something: e.g. The sun is very bright
- When something has been mentioned before: e.g. I saw a mouse. The mouse was huge.
- With the names of seas, oceans, rivers and countries with a plural noun: e.g. TheMississippi River is in the United States.
- In noun + of + noun phrases: e.g. The south of France is beautiful.
- In superlatives: e.g. The tallest building in the world is over 800 metres tall.
Do not use ‘the’ with the following:
- Names of most cities, countries or continents: Sydney, India (not the Sydney, or the India)
- Days of the weeks and months: On Monday, In March (not on the Monday, in the March)
- Sports: I play soccer, (not I play the soccer)
Indefinite Articles: ‘A/An’
This type of article uses the forms ‘a’ or ‘an’ and it is used with singular countable nouns denoting a general idea. ‘A/an’ can be used:
- The first time the noun is mentioned: e.g. I saw a mouse. The mouse was huge.
- With jobs: e.g. He is an architect, She works as a teacher.
Consider the following when using indefinite articles:
- Use ‘a’ if the word begins with a consonant (e.g. a house, a long movie). Exception: if the consonant is unpronounced, use ‘an’ instead (e.g. an honest person).
- Use ‘an’ if the word starts with a vowel (e.g. an umbrella, an expensive car). Exception: if the vowel is pronounced with a consonant sound, use ‘a’ (e.g. a university, a useful tip).
- Do not use ‘a’ or ‘an’ with uncountable nouns: e.g. I want a water. In these cases, use ‘some’ or include a countable noun: I want somewater. / I want a glass of water.
The Zero Article
As its name suggests, this is when an article is not used before a noun. This occurs when referring to nouns with a general or abstract meaning, and can be used with plural and uncountable nouns.
- Elephants in Africa are under threat. (general: all elephants in Africa)
- Oil and water don’t mix.
The zero article can be used when referring to:
- Languages: I speak French (not the French)
- Places, such as Wall Street, Macquarie University, JFK Airport, Bangkok, England.
- Academic subjects: My favourite subject is biology (not the biology)
- Meals: We need to have breakfast (not the breakfast