Proper Rules and Usage of Articles A, An and The

Introduction:

There are three articles in English. They are “a, an and the”. They come before nouns. So, we can say that their function is to aid nouns.

We classify articles on the basis of specific / particular and common things. There are two types of articles. They are:

  •       Definite article (The)
  •       Indefinite articles (a & an)

DEFINITE ARTICLE:

We classify “THE” as a definite article. It is used to point out some particular or specific thing or person. So, we use “THE” with a definite person or a thing.

For instance:

  1. I went to the doctor.
  2. The man who wrote this book is my favorite.
  3. TheSun rises in the East.
  4. They are travelling in the Arctic.
  5. This is the painting from the 1880’s.

In above listed examples, “THE” is used to point out specific persons (doctor and man) and specific object, place or time (Sun, East, Artic, Painting and Time-1880).

By using definite article “THE” with a doctor and man indicates that we are talking about some specific doctor or man.

Similarly, we again used “THE” with an object, direction, place, and painting and time period to indicate that we are talking about a particular object, direction, place, painting and time period.

CONDITIONS FOR USING DEFINITE ARTICLE:

Now, there are some specific conditions where we use the definite article “THE.” They are enlisted below:

Sno

Condition

Example

1

Use “THE” to refer to something which has already been mentioned in a sentence.

  • She was walking past MIR’s bakery when she decided to go into the bakery to get some bread.
  •   I like Kashmir cloth houses so I usually wear the brand of that very shop.
2

Use “THE” when we assume something, even if it has not been mentioned earlier in a sentence.

  • Where is the kitchen?
  • We went on a walk in the forest.
3

Use THE to identify a particular person or thing:

  • She is the girl I came to see.
  • The man who was there is my father’s colleague.
4

Use THE in order to refer to unique people or objects.

  • The Sun rises at 5 am in morning.
  • Clouds drifted across the sky.
5

Use THE before superlative and ordinal numbers:

  • This is the highest building in Dubai.
  • This is the third time she called you today.
6

Use THE with adjectives when we are to refer a whole group of people:

  • The French enjoyed this meal a lot.
  • I use to give a lot of money to the poor.
7

We use THE with decades:

  • He was born in the eighties.
  • This is an antique vase from the 1660’s.
8

We use “THE” with clauses introduced by “ONLY.”

  • My father is the only person I listen to.
  • This is the only brand I use to wear.
9

We use THE with names of geographical areas, mountain ranges, groups of islands, canals, oceans and all specific things or objects.

  • They planned to go on a cruise down the Nile.
  • We have visited the Arctic.
10

We use “THE” with those countries that include the words “republic”, “kingdom” or “states” in their names.

  • I dream of visiting the United States.
  • My uncle is from the republic of Ireland.
11

We use “THE” with those countries that have plural names.

  • She has never been to the Netherlands.
  • I have never visited the Ukraine.
12

We also use “THE” with the names of newspapers.

  • I read it in the Dawn.
  • My cousin had worked for the NEW YORK TIMES.
13

We tend to use “THE” with the names of famous buildings, works of art, museums or monuments, hotels and restaurants etc.

  • She loves to visit the museum of Taxila.
  • I saw King Lear at the Globe
14

We also use “THE” with the names of families but not with the names of individuals.

  • We are having dinner with the Rajas tonight.
  • I am going to play chess with the Browns.

 

Conditions where NOT to use Definite Article “THE”

There are certain situations where the definite article “THE” is not used. These are:

 

Sno

Conditions

Example

1

“The” is not used with the names of countries.

  • I live in Pakistan.
  • Germany is an important economic power.
2

“The” is not used with the names of languages.

  • English has borrowed many words from Latin.
  • I can speak French as well as Spanish.
3

Definite article “THE” is not used with the names of meals.

  • Dinner is my favorite meal.
  • She went away to take her lunch.
4

“THE” is also not used with people’s names.

  • Alina usually comes late to college.
  • Rameen has finished her work
5

“THE” is not used when we are referring to titles combined with names.

  • Prince Charles is Queen Elizabeth’s son.
  • Ahmed is an employee of this office.
6

We do not use THE after the possessive case.

  • Her father’s cellphone was stolen yesterday.
  • This is Javeria’s bag.
7

THE is not used with profession.

  • Medicine is a well-paid carrier.
  • Teaching is the profession I love the most.
8

“THE” is also not used with the names of shops.

  • She went to a Kashmir Cloth House.
  • My brother works at IDL pharmacy.
9

We do not used THE with years.

  • 1948 was a wonderful year.
  • This is a great film from 1997.
10

THE is also not used with uncountable nouns.

  • Rice is an important food in Asia.
  • Sugar is not good for diabetic patients.
11

“THE” is not used with the names of individual mountains, lakes, oceans and islands.

  • My friend lives near Lake Winder-mere.
  • She asked, “Have you ever visited Long Island?”
12

Names of towns, streets, stations and airports do not follow the definite article “THE”.

  • My aunt lives in Florence.
  • Can you direct me to Mozang?

 

INDEFINITE ARTICLES:

There are two indefinite articles in English. They are “a and an.” They are used with a common person, place, thing or object and also they are determined by vowel sounds.

 

“An” is used with words that begin with vowel sounds.

For example:

  • An apple a day keeps a doctor away.
  • He is an actor.

 

CONDITIONS WHERE INDEFINITE ARTICLE AN IS USED:

Sno

Conditions

Examples

1

“An” is used before words that begin with vowel sounds.

  • An orange,
  • An honest man,
  • An umbrella,
  • An Italian girl,
  • An intelligent student.
2

“An” is also with singular countable nouns. It also comes before an adjective or an adverb-adjective combination starting with the vowel sounds.

  • She is an intelligent girl.
  • He is an excellent teacher.
3

“An” is used with singular nouns not with plural nouns.

  • I saw an elephant in Lahore zoo.
  • This is an insect which has poison in its body.
4

We use indefinite articles before those words which sound like they start with a vowel even if their first letter is a consonant.

  • I have an hour to complete this task.
  • Her name begins with an “F”.
5

“AN” is also used with abbreviations (individual letters) that begin with vowel sounds.

  • She is an MA girl,
  • My cousin is an FBI agent,
  • I remained an AIOU student.

 

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