there are two types of articles:
(i) The Indefinite Articles
(ii) The Definite Article
The Indefinite Articles : A and An (Please note that ‘An’ is a
variant of ‘A’.)
‘A’ and ‘An’ are to be used with Nouns that are singular. Singular Nouns
are, To simply put, we can put one, two, … in front of them.
The Definite Article : The
1. The indefinite article ‘a’ is used before:
(a) a word beginning with a letter
having a consonant sound.
Examples: a book, a man, a dinner.
(b) a word that begins with a letter
(like O) with the sound like ‘wa’
Examples: a one-rupee note, one-eyed man etc.
(c) a word beginning with ‘u’ or ‘eu’
giving the consonant of ‘yu’.
Examples: a university,
2. The indefinite article ‘an’ is used before:
(a) a word beginning with a letter
like a, e, i, o, u having a vowel sound.
Examples: an apple, an
egg, an umbrella, an idiot, etc.
(b) a word beginning with ‘h’ but the
pronunciation starts with a vowel.
Examples: an heir, an hour,
an honest man, etc.
(c) an abbreviation, the first letter
of which is ‘M’
Examples: an M.L.A., an M.P., an M.Com an S.D.O and F.R.C.S.,
an X-mas gift etc.
RULES REGARDING THE ARTICLES:
We use a or an:
Rule 1: If noun is singular countable, article must be used.
John is teacher (Incorrect))
John is a teacher (correct)
Man came to my house yesterday(Incorrect)
A man came to my house yesterday (Correct)
Rule 2: a or an must be used for noun complement which
He was great man.
He was a great man (Correct)
He is actor (Incorrect)
He is an actor (Correct)
Rule 2: If we want to say something about speed or price.
I bought these onions Five
rupees kilo. (Incorrect)
I bought these onions Five rupees a kilo (Correct)
The speed of the
train is fifty miles hour (Incorrect)
The speed of the train is fifty miles an hour (Correct)
Rule 4: In exclamatory sentence before singular and countable
What a fine sketch! (Correct)
What a great shot! (Correct)
Rule 5: Before the word ‘most’ when it is used in the sense of very or
much or exceedingly.
Sreedhar is most intelligent student.
Sreedhar is a
most intelligent student (Correct)
This is most unfortunate event. (Incorrect)
This is a most unfortunate event. (Correct)
Rule 6: Before a singular countable noun which is used as an example
to represent a class.
Cow is useful animal
A cow is useful animal (Correct)
Note : It must be borne in mind that ‘man’ or ‘woman’, when used in a general
sense to represent ‘mankind’ as a whole, never takes are article.
A man is mortal
Man is mortal (Correct)
A woman is man’s better half (Incorrect)
Woman is man’s better half (Correct)
Rule 11: With the words a
lot of, a couple, a great many, a good deal of, a good many, a great deal of, a
few, a little etc. when they mean ‘Some amount’ and ‘a small
Few books were in the library
A few books were in
the library (Correct)
Lot of people have attended the party(Incorrect)
A lot of people have attended the party(Correct)
Rule 5: In certain phrases: a cold, a pain, on an average, make a noise, make an effort, make a
mistake, a fever. etc.
I’ve got cold
Rule 6: With certain numbers : a hundred, a thousand, a
Rule 7: ‘A’ can be used before Mr. / Miss / Mrs. + name
a Mr. Bose, a Mrs, Bose etc.
Note : A Mr. Bose denotes a person
who is called Bose, and implies that he is a stranger to the speaker.
Mr. Bose, without ‘a’. implies that the speaker knows Mr. Bose, or knows of his
Rule 8: Before a proper noun to make it a common noun.
Mohan is a Newton of our class (Incorrect)
Mohan is the Newton of our class (Correct)
Rule 9: Before certain uncountable nouns preceded by nouns + of
a piece of advice, a bit of news,
a drop of water etc.
After the words many, rather, such, quite etc in certain structures.
1. Many a friend of mine is
attending the party.
2. Such a show cannot be
3. He is rather a fool to take
A or An is not used before:
(a) Plural nouns: a books, a universities etc. (Incorrect)
(b) Uncountable nouns: an advices, an information etc. (Incorrect)
(c) Names of meals:
Let us have a dinner (Incorrect)
Let us have dinner (Correct)
Note: An indefinite article can be used before names of meals when these are
preceded by an adjective.
She gave me a good
breakfast at 8 p.m. (Correct)