An article is a word that modifies or describes the noun. It is used before the noun to show whether it refers to something specific or not. So, articles can also be described as demonstrative adjectives.
WHAT ARE ARTICLES?
An article is a word or a letter which is used before noun and tells about the certainty of that noun.
The words ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’, known as Articles.
KINDS OF ARTICLES
There are two kinds of articles which are mentioned as follows:
1) INDEFINITE ARTICLE (A/AN): If the noun is singular and countable, and this is the first time speaker has mentioned it, then he/she will usually need the indefinite article. For example,
I bought a pen – we do not know which pen.
There is a bird outside – we do not know anything about the bird
NOTE: A) If the noun starts with a vowel sound, then the article ‘an’ is used: an ear, an uncle, an hour.
- B) If the noun starts with a consonant sound, then the article ‘a’ is used: a school, a university.
2) DEFINITE ARTICLE (THE): If a reader or listener understands what a speaker is referring to, then the speaker will usually need the definite article. For example,
- i) I bought a pen last week. The pen is red in color.
(Speaker has just mentioned the pen, so they both know which one.)
- ii) We went to a wedding yesterday. The bride wore a lovely dress.
(Speaker has not mentioned the bride before, but they both know she is connected to the wedding.)
NOTE: When we speak of a person or thing for the first time we generally use the indefinite article a or an; but when we speak of the same person or thing a second time we use the definite article the.
WHERE ARE THESE ARTICLES USED?
Articles are used before the following parts of speech:
- A) NOUN: In the sentences, articles are used before noun. If there is not any noun, the use of articles in that sentence will be incorrect. For example,
He is a strong. (Incorrect)
He is strong. (Correct)
He is a strong person. (Correct)
- B) ADJECTIVE: If there is an adjective to define the noun given in the sentence, the article is used before the given adjective. For example,
- This is a beautiful picture.
- I am living a happy life.
- C) ADVERB: If an adverb is also there in the sentence, then the article is used before it. For example, This is a very difficult
USE OF INDEFINITE ARTICLES (A/AN)
- Use the article a or an to indicate any non-specified member of a group or category.
I think an animal is in the garage.
That man is a scoundrel.
We are looking for an apartment.
- Use the article a or an to indicate one in number (as opposed to more than one).
I own a cat and two dogs.
- Use the article a before a consonant sound, and use an before a vowel sound.
a woman, a hero, an apple, an umbrella, an ice-cream, etc.
- Sometimes an adjective comes between the article and noun.
an unhappy boy, a red apple, etc.
- The plural form of a or an is some. Use some to indicate an unspecified, limited amount (but more than one).
an apple, some apple, etc.
Few examples of use of articles A/An
- An hour
- An hourly meeting
- An honor
- An honorable person
- An honest man
- An heir
- An honorarium
- A husband
- A heinous crime
- A young man
- A ewe
- A university
- A union
- A eulogy
- A one rupee note
- A one eyed man
- A uniform
- A useful book
- A unique decision
- A year
- A USA ally
- An F.O.
- A forest officer
- An M.P./M.L.C.
- A member of Parliament
- An IAS / IPS /ILO
- An SP / SDO
- An M.A./M.Sc./M.Com
- An RTS / RTC/ RO
- A U.K. ship / European
RULES FOR USING INDEFINITE ARTICLES (A/AN)
The Indefinite Articles ‘A/AN’ are used in following cases:
USE OF ‘AN’:
1) Before words beginning with vowel sounds (a, e, i, o, u are called vowels). Others are consonants.
An apple, an egg, an owl etc.
2) Before words beginning with silent ‘h’ as in an hour, an honorable man, an heir, an honest man.
3) F, H, L, M, N, R, S, X are letters that are not vowels but begin with vowel sound e.g. ‘M’ has the sound of ‘em’. So, ‘an’ is used before abbreviations beginning with vowels or these letters. For eg. An M.L.A, an N.C.C., an S.P., an X-ray etc.
4) before words beginning with a silent h as in an honest person, an hour ago, etc.
5) before words beginning with a silent y as in an year-long marriage,etc
USE OF ‘A’:
1) Before a singular countable noun which represents a class of things:
- i) A bird has two wings.
- ii) A monkey have a tail.
2) With certain numbers and expressions of quantity:
- i) He has a hundred rupees.
- ii) I have purchased a dozen bananas.
3) With units, rates, etc.:
- i) I can walk five kilometers an hour.
- ii) He sold mangoes at the rate of twenty rupees a kilo.
4) If a singular noun is placed after; many/rather/quite/such:
- i) It was quite a difficult task to make him dance.
- ii) I always welcome such a chance.
5) In exclamations, before singular, countable nouns:
- i) How cold a day!
- ii) What a scene!
6) Before the name of the profession:
- i) Shivi is an engineer.
- ii) Ravi is a doctor.
7) When a verb is used as a noun:
- i) He goes for a walk daily.
- ii) I want to have a drink.
8) When two subjects or articles are thought of as a single unit:
- i) He was ready with a cup and saucer.
- ii) A cigarette is made of a paper and tobacco.
9) When as, so, too, how, quite are used before adjectives:
- i) It is too heavy a box for me to carry.
- ii) Rishi is not so big a dumb as you think.
10) With vowel letters having consonant value:
A university, a one-eyed man, a European, a one-act play, etc.
11) If an adjective is followed by a singular noun:
- i) Urmila is beautiful girl. (Incorrect)
Urmila is a beautiful girl. (Correct)
- ii) I have good health. (Incorrect)
I have a good health. (Correct)
12) Before a proper noun, as a common noun :
- i) He is a Shakespeare.
- ii) He is a Nelson Mendela.
13) Before the name of a person (proper noun) when it means that the person is not known to the speaker:
- i) This poem is written by a Ritesh
- ii) The talent show was anchored by a Apoorva.
14) before the word one which begins with the consonant sound of wa and yu.
a university, a European, a useful thing, a one-way road, a one-rupee note, etc.
15) In some phrases as:
Keep a secret, have a good knowledge, half a kilo, at a stone’s throw, make a foot, take an interest in, a matter of chance, a short while ago, make a noise, in a fix, in a hurry, as a rule, at a discount, at a stone’s throw, a short while ago, at a loss, take a fancy to, to have a drink, go for a walk, tell a lie, a matter of chance, etc.
NOTE: In general, ‘A or An’ is not used before uncountable nouns, as advice, accommodation, baggage, luck, news, permission, scenery, weather, knowledge, music, milk, stone, brick, wine, beauty, etc.
For example, i) She has to purchase some bread.
- ii) No news is good news.
iii) He brought his furniture by train.
If ‘A or An’ is used with uncountable nouns then first they are made countable by adding certain words.
For example, i) I have given a piece of information.
- ii) I have a piece of bread.
iii) I have a good news for you.
Note: Articles are not used before noun in case of kind of, sort of, variety of, type of, etc.
For example, What sort of a girl is she! (Incorrect)
What sort of girl is she! (Correct)
USE OF DEFINITE ARTICLE ‘THE’
We have only one definite article, and it’s “the.” We use “the” for singular, plural and uncountable nouns when the reader or listener clearly understands which thing we’re talking about:
- Use the article the when a particular noun has already been mentioned previously.
I ate an apple yesterday. The apple was juicy and delicious.
- Use the article the when an adjective, phrase, or clause describing the noun clarifies or restricts its identity.
- i) Theboy sitting next to me raised his hand.
- ii) Thank you for theadvice you gave me.
- Use the article the when the noun refers to something or someone that is unique.
- i) thetheory of relativity
- ii) the2003 federal budget
RULES FOR USING DEFINITE ARTICLE ‘THE’
The definite Article ‘The’ is used in following cases:
1) When we talk about a particular person or thing or one already mentioned. For example,
- i) Give me the vase which you bought yesterday.
- ii) The purse you want is out of stock.
iii) I met a girl. The girl was beautiful.
2) when a singular noun represents a whole class. For example,
- i) The lily is a beautiful flower.
- ii) The rabbit loves comfort.
iii) The neem is a useful tree.
3) before the first noun in ‘noun + preposition + noun’ construction. For example,
- i) The Bharat of Ramayana is an ideal brother.
- ii) The gold of India is famous.
iii) She likes the sweets of Jaipur.
4) before names of rivers, oceans, gulfs, deserts and forests. For example,
The Ganges, The Amazon, The Nile, The Arabian Sea, The Pacific Ocean, The Indian Ocean,
The Persian Gulf, The Gulf of Mexico, The Sahara, The Black Forest, etc.
5) before comparative degree when it is used as adverb. For example,
- i) The more she reads, the more she understands.
- ii) The sooner he completes, the better it is.
6) When ‘the’ is used before the adjective which is used as a noun in the sentence, the adjective, then, represents the whole class or community. For example,
The young, the poor, the rich, the disabled, the male, the female, etc.
7) before names of religious and mythological books. For example,
The Vedas, The Ramayana, The Bible, etc.
8) before names of newspapers and magazines. For example,
The Hindustan Times, The Times of India, The Statesman, etc.
9) before names of heavenly bodies, directions and things which are unique of their kind. For example,
The earth, The sun, The moon, The east, The north, The equator, etc.
NOTE: ‘The’ is not used before the words ‘Heaven, Hell, God, Parliament’.
10) before names of historical buildings, places and events. For example,
The Taj Mahal, The Red Fort, The Pyramids, The Kaba, The Kurukshetra, The French Revolution, etc.
11) before musical instruments. For example,
- i) He can play the guitar.
- ii) She is fond of playing on the piano.
NOTE: When musical instruments are used as countable nouns, A/An is used. For example,
- i) We gave her a harmonium.
- ii) I have bought a violin.
12) before religious communities and political parties. For example,
The Hindus, The Muslims, The Sikhs, The BJP, The Congress Party, The Janata Dal, etc.
13) before names of ships, aeroplanes and trains. For example,
The Virat, The Vikrant, The Meghdoot, The Shatabdi Express, The Punjab Mail, The Rajdhani Express, etc.
14) before the words denoting physical positions. For example,
The top, The bottom, The centre, The inside, The front, The back, etc.
15) before parts of body. For example,
- i) He was hit on the head.
- ii) She pulled the cat by the tail.
iii) You caught me by the arm.
16) before names of government departments and armed forces. For example,
The Judiciary, The Legislative, The Executive, The Army, The Navy, The Air Force, etc.
17) before the superlative degree. For example,
- i) Honesty is the best policy.
- ii) She is the tallest girl in the class.
iii) The rose is the sweetest of all flowers.
NOTE: If superlative degree ‘most’ is used as a meaning of ‘very’, then article ‘the’ is not used before it.
For example, i) This is a most useful tool.
- ii) It is a most beautiful landscape.
18) before the plural names of a few countries, provinces, islands, persons, mountains, etc. For example,
The USA, The USSR, The Netherlands, The Sudan, The Punjab, the Andes, the Ambanis, The Himalayas, The Lakshdweep islands, The Philippines, The Raymonds, The Johnsons, etc.
19) before comparative degree in case of a choice. For example,
- i) She is the prettier of the two sisters.
- ii) He is the stronger of the two.
20) before the ordinals. For example,
The first, The third, The ninth, etc.
21) before terms referring Nationality or Community. For example,
The French, the Indian, the American, the English, etc.
22) Before ‘job’ and ‘profession’. For example,
- i) I likes the teaching job.
- ii) My father likes the banking profession.
23) before Sky, Moon, World, Sea, Country, Environment, Atmosphere.
- a) ‘THE’ is not followed by ‘space’ when it is related to universe. But it follows ‘the’ when it means some gap or void.
- b) ‘The’ is not generally used before the name of countries but if the name of countries contains words like; States, Kingdom, Republic etc, we use ‘the’ before them:
The USA, the USSR, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Dominion Republic, etc.
- i) He went to Mexico.
- ii) He is from the United States.
iii) The USA and the UK both agreed on this point.
- c) In the following case, we do not use ‘The’ before ‘Sea’
- i) We go to sea as sailors.
- ii) He is at sea now a days (on a voyage).
- d) We can use ‘the’ before ‘Space’ if it implies place.
Eg. He tried to park his car there but the space was too small.
But if ‘space’ implies area beyond the earth’s atmosphere, do not use ‘the’ before it:
Eg. There are lacs of stars in space.
24) before the names of Committee, Club, Foundation and Trust. For example,
The lions club, the rotary club, the WHO, the United Nation
25) in some phrases. For example,
- i) What is the matter?
- ii) Keep to the left.
iii) Come to the point.
- iv) He is in the swing.
26) in the sentence structure : The + name + of + …. For example,
- i) The Bank of America is a big bank.
- ii) The Great wall of China is a historical monument.
iii) The tower of London is a great tower.
27) before ‘cinema’ and ‘theatre’ in ‘go to the cinema’ and ‘go to the theatre’.
- i) He went to the theatre yesterday.
- ii) I am going to the cinema today.
28) before the names of diseases. For example,
The measles, the rickets, the mumps, the plague, the flu, etc.
29) before ‘same’ and ‘whole’; after ‘all’ and ‘both’
- i) Your pen is the same as mine.
- ii) The whole period was wasted.
iii) All the peasants protested before the magistrate’s house.
- iv) Both the sisters participated in the dance competition.
30) When two or more nouns refer to one person, put ‘the’ before the first noun only. If the nouns refer two different persons or thing, ‘the’ is used before both of them. For example,
- i) The father and doctor was present in the seminar.
- ii) The principal and teacher donated the sum of fifty thousands to the poor.
iii) The father and the doctor were called for an interview.
- iv) The principal and the teacher were delivering speech in the seminar.
31) Before a proper noun, only when it is qualified by an adjective. For example,
The great Caesar, The immortal Shakeskpeare, The brave Napolean.
32) Before a common noun, to give it the meaning of an abstract noun:
- i) The moralist in Gandhi, revolted against the injustice.
- ii) The judge in her prevailed upon the wife and she sentenced her husband to prison.
33) When a person is being referred by his designation, ‘the’ is used:
The Chairman, The Director, The President.
All financial decisions will be taken by the Chairman.
34) When the thing referred is understood:
- i) Kindly return the book. (That I gave you)
- ii) Can you turn off the light? (The light in the room).
35) Letters written to two or more unmarried sisters jointly may be addressed:
The Misses + surname, eg:
The Misses Smith
OMISSION OF ARTICLES
Students should learn the following points carefully to avoid the wrong use of articles.
Articles are omitted:
1) before a Proper Noun:
Birbal was a loyal advicer .
NOTE: When ‘Article’ is used before a proper noun, it becomes a common noun. Examples:
- i) Bangluru is the Manchester of India.
- ii) This man is a second Gandhi.
2) before a common noun (man, life, death, art, science) used in its widest sense.
- i) Man is mortal.
- ii) What kind of insect it is?
iii) Science has developed much in the past fifty years.
3) before Plural nouns referring a class in a general sense:
For example, Bankers are generally honest.
4) before Abstract nouns that express; qualities, state, feeling, actions:
For example, Honest is the best policy.
NOTE: When abstract nouns, instead of referring qualities, express persons or things possessing such qualities or express qualities of definite objects, they are preceded by article. For example:
- i) She possesses the cunningness of a fox.
(Here cunningness refers the quality of a definite object that is ‘fox’)
- ii) He is a justice of peace (‘Justice’ stands for judge).
5) before material nouns:
- i) Iron is a hard metal.
- ii) Silver is a semi precious metal.
NOTE: When material noun express things instead of matter of which they are made, they are representing ‘common noun’, so they can be preceded by article:
- i) He threw a stone on the cow.
- ii) She threw a stick at the pig.
6) before names of diseases like Fever, Cholera, Consumption etc
7) before names of regular meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
He was invited to dinner.
NOTE: But if the meal becomes particular, article is used:
The dinner hosted by the queen was superb.
8) before name of things single in kind; Hell, Heaven, God, Parliament, Paradise (But ‘The Pope’, The Devil are exceptions):
- i) He was condemned to hell.
- ii) The Pope delivered a religious speech.
9) before names of ‘Languages’ or ‘Colours’.
For example, I do not know ‘Hindi’ but know ‘English’.
10) before certain titles + names indicating mutual relationship:
For example, Emperor Ashoka, President Bush, Dewan Bahadur.
- i) Prince Charles is Queen Elizabeth’s son.
- ii) He is Duke of York.
(But ‘the Queen of England’ ‘the Pope’ are exceptions.)
11) before a noun following the expression ‘kind of’:
For example, What kind of girl is she?
12) In certain phrases. (given below):
to take breath, to set sail, to leave school, to lay seige, to catch fire, at home, in hand, at school, by water, at sunset, on earth, by land, by train, by car, on demand, in debt, in jest etc.
13) before noun complement like elect, made, nominate, appoint, declare, etc. For example,
- i) I was elected Superviser.
- ii) He made me monitor.
14) before the names of public institutions (Church, School, University, Prison, Hospital, Court, etc) if they are used for the purpose they exist and not otherwise.
He went to church (It means he went to church for saying his prayer).
NOTE: He went to the church and from there he took a bus. (Means that he went to the place where building of the church is situated).
He goes to college at 8 a.m. daily.
(here the purpose of going is-study.)
I am going to the college, wherefrom I will catch the bus for Jaipur. (Here, the purpose of going to college is not study, ie, the purpose for which the college is established.)
15) When two or more descriptive adjectives qualify the same noun and these adjectives are connected by ‘and’, the article is used before the first adjective only:
This is a Hindi and English Dictionary.
(Here, dictionary is one)
16) If two nouns refer to the same person or thing, the article is used before the first noun only, but if they refer to different persons or things, the article must be used with each noun:
- i) He is a better soldier that statesman.
- ii) He was a greater soldier than a statesman.
17) Article is omitted after the possessive case:
His brother’s car, Peter’s house.
18) Article is omitted with names of professions :
Engineering is a useful career.
19) Article is omitted with days , months and years:
- i) 26 January is a special date for Indians.
- ii) Do you remember 2000?
iii) She will go on Monday.
- iv) They are getting married in January.
20) No article is used before the name of games sports:
I am playing cricket.
21) No article is used before a noun when it is modified by either a possessive adjective or a demonstrative adjective:
Do you like my shirt? (possessive adjective ‘my’)
22) No article is used before a noun when it is preceded by a distributive adjective:
Every student got a prize. (Distributive adjective-‘every’)
23) No article is used before ‘number + noun’:
The train arrives at platform 7.
24) Work (= place of work) is used without definite article ‘the’:
- He is on his way to work.
- She is at work.
25) Office (= place of work) needs ‘the’: He is at/in the office.
To be in office (without the) means to hold an official (usually political) position.
To be out of office = to be no longer in power.
26) Definite article ‘the’ is omitted when subject’s or speaker’s own town is referred:
We go to town sometimes to meet our mother.
27) ‘Nature’, when means environment, do not use article before it:
28) No article is used before name of ‘Season’:
- i) In spring, we like to clean the house.
- ii) She is planning to visit her parents in winter.
29) Definite article ‘the’ is not used with ‘Time of day’
We travelled mostly by night.
30) Names without ‘the’:
If the names of places ‘especially’, names of important buildings and institutions consist of two words. First word is the name of a person or a place, we do not use ‘the’ before such names usually:
For example, Delhi Airport, Victoria Terminus, London zoo, Jaisingh Palace, Indira Gandhi Airport, Edinburgh Castle, Jaipur Palace, etc.
31) Usually, no article is used with the name of Airlines,Companies:
British Airways, Sony, IBM, KODAK, Indian Airlines etc.
33) before names of festivals and seasons. E.g,
- i) He will go to Canada in winter.
- ii) She celebrated Christmas with her friends.
NOTE: But in case if used as adjective:
- i) He will go to Canada in the winter season.
- ii) She went to Delhi in the Diwali holidays.
(34) before the names of persons, villages, cities, districts, states and countries. E.g,
- i) Anjali is a beautiful girl.
- ii) London is a big city.
iii) Paris is the capital of France.