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Articles for beginners!

The English language consists of three articles to accompany a noun. These are; a, an and the. We use them for nearly everything and use them in a specific way. So here are the basics.

a – We use ‘a’ for most things that can be made plural; a book, a train, a man, a plane and take it away once that thing exceeds 1; books, trains, men, planes.

an – we use ‘an’ in exactly the same way, with things that can be made plural but the only difference is ‘an’ should be used with nouns beginning with a vowel. So, for example; an elephant, an owl, an apple etc. However, it's actually more about the sound of the noun not the spelling for example; hour starts with a ‘h’ but sounds like ‘ow’ so we use ‘an hour’ not ‘a hour’. The letter ‘u’ is particularly tricky as it sounds more like ‘you’ most of the time so we don’t us ‘an’ we use ‘a’ for example, we say ‘a UFO’ not ‘an UFO’ or we say ‘a uniform’ rather than ‘an uniform’. Silly eh?

The – we use 'the' for places most of the time. For example we say ‘the hospital’ ‘the park’ and so on. Its very simple to use. The big problem that most ESL learners struggle with is we do not use ‘the’ for people nor countries. ‘The’ can also be used for a specific object or person. For example, ‘There is a cat. The cat is black.’

So there you have it, a brief introduction to articles.

Articles get more confusing as your English develops, moving further into conversations using nouns that are countable and uncountable. 

Read this article to find out more on that.

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