The Indefinite Article – A / AN
We use A/AN with:
1. Singular nouns and the first time we refer to a person, animal or thing.
2. We don't use A/AN with possessive pronouns, demonstratives or cardinal numbers.
My shirt is dirty.
This car is expensive.
One person is in the reception.
3. We use ONE (or more) instead of A/AN when the number is important.
There is only one exit from the airport.
What is the difference between A and AN?
A is used when the next word begins with a consonant sound (b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k etc).
a university (because the beginning of university sounds like YOU-niversity)
AN is used when the next word begins with a vowel sound (a, e, i, o, u).
an hour (because the H is silent)
The Definite Article – THE
We use THE with:
1. A singular or plural noun when it is clear/obvious which person or thing we are talking about.
There is a lamp in my bedroom. (we mention the lamp for the first time)
The lamp is next to the desk.
2. Anything which we identify immediately.
We watched the new Brad Pitt movie last night.
3. Musical instruments (the violin, the guitar, the drums, the flute, the piccolo).
She plays the piano.
4. Something that is unique or there is only one.
5. Names of rivers, seas, oceans, mountain ranges and deserts (always in capitals).
The Mississippi River
The Black Sea
The Sahara Desert
6. Directions (cardinal points).
We use no article with:
1. When we refer to general ideas, plurals or uncountable nouns we do not use THE.
Religion is an important issue. (NOT The religion is an important issue)
Mexican food is spicy. (NOT The Mexican food is spicy).
2. Names of people, books and plays (unless it is part of the title).
I have read Romeo and Juliet.
3. Towns, cities, states and countries.
(Exceptions – The USA, The UK, The Netherlands, The Czech Republic, The Philippines).
4. Lakes, single islands, continents or mountains.
6. Sports or games