Articles in English Grammar

Articles in English languageThe lesson presents the article definition and general rules for the use of definite and indefinite articles in the English language.
The article is an auxiliary word in the English language. It is used before a noun and identifies it. If there is one or several adjectives before a noun, then the article is placed before all adjectives.

There are only three articles: ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ – in the English language.

There are two types of articles:

  • indefinite article – ‘a‘ and ‘an
  • definite article – ‘the

It’s important to know when the article is not used.

The indefinite article “a/an” originates from the word “one” and is therefore used only with countable singular nouns. It is used in case you speak of a certain object for the first time, or when somebody doesn’t know what you are talking about. It is also used to point out the fact that the object belongs to a certain type of objects.

The definite article “the” originates from the word “this” and is used with different nouns. It is used with objects or concepts that are already familiar to everybody.

Articles usually refer to a noun, but if there are attributes in front of a noun then the article precedes all attributes.

The article may be replaced by a pronoun:

  • Definite article – with demonstrative pronouns:  this, that
  • Indefinite article – with pronoun:  some
The table shows the general use of English articles::
singular – countable nouns plural of countable nouns, non-countable nouns
indefinite before a consonant sound a no article
before a vowel sound an no article
definite the the


a pen – (any) pen

the pen – (some) pen

The youngest boy brought books and an apple.

There is the definite article before the “youngest boy” in this example, because the listener knows about the boy in question. “Books” and “an apple” are mentioned for the first time; therefore they are used with an indefinite article. With the “books” in plural the indefinite article is not used.

Many advanced students still have problems with articles, so if this is hard (difficult) for you, watch and learn!