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The words a or an and the are called Articles and come before nouns.  

A or an is called the Indefinite Article; the person or thing spoken of is vague:

A doctor, a boy, adoctor .

The Indefinite Article is used before singular countable nouns: A book

The is called the Definite Article; it normally points out some particular

person or thing: He saw the doctor.

This Article is used before nouns, singular or plural, count or mass:

The book, the books, the milk

A or An

An is used before a word beginning with a vowel sound; an ass, an enemy.

A is used before a word beginning with a consonant sound: a boy, a woman, etc.

But words like university, union, Europe etc. begin with the glide “y” or “w”;

So we write aunion, a European, aunicorn, aone-eyed man.

Use of the Definite Article

       The Definite Article the is used-

(1) When we talk about a particular person or thing 

     The book you want is out of print. Let's go to the park.

(2) When a singular noun is meant to represent a whole class:

     The cow is a useful animal..

(3) Before some Proper names:

(a) oceans and seas, e.g. the Pacific, the black Sea

(b) rivers, e.g. the Ganga, the Nile

(c) canals, e.g. the Suez Canal

(d) deserts, e.g. the Sahara

(e) mountain-ranges, e.g. the Himalayas, the Alps

(f) a very few names of countries, like the Irish Republic, the United Kingdom

(4) Before the names of certain books:

     The Iliad, the Ramayana.

(5) Before names of things unique of their kind:

     The sun, the sky, the ocean, the sea, the earth.

(6) Before a Proper noun qualified by an Adjective:

     The immortal Shakespeare.

(7) With Superlatives:

     The darkest cloud has a silver lining.

(8) With ordinals:

      He was the first man to arrive

 (9) Before musical instruments:

       He can play the flute.

(10) Before an Adjective expressing a class of people

       The poor are always with us.

(11) Before a noun to give the force of a Superlative:

       The Verb is the word in a sentence.

(12) As an Adverb with Comparatives:

       The more they get, the more they want.

Use of the Indefinite Article

The Indefinite Article is used-

(1) In the sense of one:

      A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

(2) In  the sense of a certain:

     One evening a beggar came to my door.

(3) In the sense of any, to single out an individualas the representative of a class:

     A pupil should obey his teacher. 

(4) To make a common noun of a Proper noun:

A Danielcomes to judgment!

Omission of the Article

The Article is omitted-

(1) Before names of substances and abstract nouns used in a generic sense:

    Sugar is bad for your teeth.

(2) Before plural countable nouns used in a generic sense:

   Children like chocolates.

(3) Before most proper nouns,names of continents, countries, cities, names of mountains, islands, lakes, hills, etc.

(4) Before names of meals in a generic sense:

    What time do you have lunch?

(5) Before languages:

     We are studying English.

(6) Before public institutions shared by the community (school, college, bed,   hospital, or prison) :

      We go to school and collegeeveryday except on Fridays.

(7) Before names of relations, like father, mother, uncle, cook and nurse:

      Father has returned and aunt wants you to see him. .

(8) Before predicative nouns denoting a unique position:

      He was elected chairman of the Board.

(9) In certain infinitive-object phrases:

to catch fire, to take breath, to cast anchor, to send word, to give ear, to lay siege, to set sail, to lose heart, to set foot, to leave home, among others.

(10) In certain preposition phrases:

at home, in hand, in debt, by day, by night, at daybreak, at sunrise, at noon, at sunset, at sight, at interest, on earth, by land, by water, by river, by name, etc.

Repetition of the Article

  1.  When Adjectives qualify the noun, use one Article before the Adjectives.

I have a black and white dog

  1.  When Adjectives qualify different nouns, use an Article before each Adjective.

I havea black and a white dog .

  1.  One item or individual, one Article

The Secretary and Treasurer is absent.

  1.  Different items or individuals, different Articles

The Secretary and the Treasurer are absent.


Posted By: Kaci Kerkad Category: Grammar

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