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Definite Article – ‘The’

Indefinite Article – ‘A’ or ‘An’  

A’ is used: 

¨        Before a word which begins with a consonant. Example: a woman 

¨        Before a singular, countable noun. Example: a banana 

¨        When we mention something for the first time. Example: I saw a dog.  

¨        Before a word with a long sound of ‘u’. Example: a university, a uniform, a   useful book, a European, etc. 

¨        Before the word one. Example: a one-way street, a one-eyed man, a one-year course, a one-day holiday, etc. 

An’ is used: 

¨        Before a noun which begins with a vowel. Example: an apple. 

¨        Before a word which begins with a vowel sound or a silent ‘h. Example: an hour, an honest man, an heir, an honour, an honourable man, etc 

¨        Before a singular, countable noun which begins with a vowel or silent h. Example: an orange 

The’ is used: 

1.        When the same thing or person mentioned again, that is, a particular thing or person. Example: I bought an orange. The orange is sweet.. 

2.        When there is only one such thing. Example: the earth, the sun, the moon. 

3.        Before the names of famous buildings, etc. Example: The Eiffel Tower, The Great Wall of China. 

4.        When a singular noun is used to point out a whole class, race, group, etc. Example: The bear is a strong animal. 

5.        Before the special names of a rivers, seas, oceans, mountain ranges, groups of islands, certain organizations, political parties, and countries such as the U.S.A., the U.K., the  U.S.S.R. and the U.A.R., The Nile, The Dead Sea, The Pacific Ocean, The Himalayas, The United Nations, The Republican Party, etc. 

6.        Before the names of holy or important books. Example: The Koran, The Bible. 

7.        Before an adjective when the noun is understood. Example: The poor need help. 

Articles are not used:

1.        Before the name of a person: Example: I am a fan of Michael Jackson. (not A or The Michael Jackson) 

2.        Before the name of a place, town, country, street, or road. Example: Barcelona is a beautiful city. (not A or The Barcelona) 

3.        Before names of materials. Example: Gold is found in Australia. (not A or The gold) 

4.        Before abstract nouns used in a general sense. Example: We love all beauty. (not a beauty or the beauty)


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