Use of Articles| Types, Examples & Exercises – comprehensive guide

Articles make nouns particular or common. To understand the quantity of something, the noun needs some article

Articles:

In English Grammar, the articles are used for the noun. They make nouns particular or common. In a sentence, the noun is taken as the name of something, place, or person. To understand the quantity of something, the noun needs some article. The article tells the specification of that thing, person, or place. It is the article that comprehends the noun and provides us clear information about the noun.

There are two types of articles used in a sentence.

  1. Indefinite Articles
  2. Definite Articles

Indefinite Articles: A, An

They are used only for singular numbers but for all genders. The choice between ‘A’ or ‘An’ is determined by sound. ‘A’ is used before a word beginning with a consonant sound and ‘An’ is used before a word beginning with a vowel sound.

Vowel sound: (a,e,i,o,u)

‘A’ before consonant sound‘An’ before the vowel sound
A boy, a cat, a pencil, a kite, a bag, a table, a laptop, a door, a man  An egg, an elephant, an apple, an arm, an orange, an inkpot, an ear

There is some special use of these articles.

Special use of “A”:

‘A’ is used before vowel sounding ‘yu’ ‘wa’

Examples:

a Union, a University, a unique style, a five rupee note

Special use of “An”:

‘An’ is used before consonant sounding as a vowel.

Examples:

an hour, an honest woman, an M.P, an S.D.O

Quick Steps of Using (A, An):

  1. A, An are used with the countable nouns.
  2. A, An are not used with the uncountable nouns.

A table, a car, a man, an hour

  • A, An are used as per vowel sound and they do not add in a sentence as per consonant or vowel.

An M.Phil, An hour, An honorable person

  • The words which start with consonants take “a” before them. But the consonant produces vowel sounds, “an” is used in place of “a”.

Examples:

  • Sophia is a doctor.
  • Bob is an M.A.
  • Do not make a noise.
  • An ounce is enough.
  • One hundred centimetres make a meter.
  • To make a common Noun or Proper Noun

Examples:

  • He thinks he is a Newton.
  • He seems to be an African.
  • He seems to be a Pakistani.
  • A or An is used in the sense of the same.

Examples:

  • Birds of a feather flock together.
  • Horses in a cartridge run together.
  • Before words like ‘dozen’, ‘hundred’, ‘thousand’, ‘million’

Examples:

  • Here are a dozen of bananas.
  • A hundred boys came out from school.
  • A thousand people joined the procession.
  • Millions of people have detected a Corona-virus.
  • Use in the sense of each or per

Examples:

  • He earns five thousand dollars a month.
  • He drives the car at 50 kilometers an hour.
  • To indicate a class as a whole

Examples:

  • A cow has horns (all cows have horns)
  • An elephant has a trunk (all elephants have a trunk)
  • A Lion has a long tail (all lions have a long tail)
  1. Before some words and Phrases

Examples:

  • I have a headache.
  • I am in a hurry.
  • He had a bad cold.
  • She had a cough.
  • They take an interest in this.
  1. In Exclamatory sentences beginning with what

Examples:

  • What a pity!
  • What a wonderful match!
  • What a pleasant night!
  • What a pretty girl!
  • What a nice bird it is!
  • What a beautiful place!
  1. ‘A’ is used before, few, little, lot of, good deal, great many,  good many, good, many, and sometimes after many.

     Examples:

  •      Here are a lot of books.
  •      A great many soldiers entered the field.
  1. A, An is used before the superlative most when it means ‘very’.

Examples:

  • He saw a most wonderful sight.
  • This is a most interesting story.

Definite Article: (The)

  1. The is used before Nouns of which there is only one .For example, The earth, The moon, The sky, The sun, The North Police, The weather.
  2. When a common noun is used two or more times in the same context. For example:

There was a Queen. The Queen ruled over a large State with might and main. The country suffered greatly when the Queen passed away.

  • Before the names of rivers, seas or oceans, gulfs, mountains, etc.

Examples:

  • The Panama Canal
  • The Mississippi
  • The Nile
  • The Congo
  • The Arabian Sea
  • The Pacific Ocean
  • The Atlantic
  • The Bosphorus
  • The Straits
  • Before the names of groups of islands and mountain ranges.
  • The Hebrides
  • The Himalayas
  • Before the names of ships
  • The Titanic
  • The Eisenhower
  • Before the names of newspapers and magazines or journals.
  • The News
  • The Nation
  • The Times
  • The Reader’s Digest
  • Before the names of directions.
  • The east
  • The west
  • The south
  • The north
  • The north-east
  • Before the names of deserts, plains, and winds
  • The Sahara
  • The West Winds
  • Before the names of trains.
  • The EN Chopin
  • The EC Lehar
  • The EC Mozart
  1. Before the names of objects in the nature, universe which are unique
  •       The moon
  •       The sun
  •       The earth
  •       The ocean
  •       The sky
  1. Before the names of famous buildings.
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • The Red Fort
  • The Pyramids
  1. Before the names of nations and religious sects
  • The Christians
  • The Hindus
  • The Buddhists
  • The Red Indians
  1. Before the third (superlative) degree of the adjective.
  • This is the tallest building in the city.
  • She is the most intelligent girl I have ever seen.
  1. Before famous historical events.
  • The Second World War
  • The French Revolution
  • The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
  1. Before the names of Institutions and countries.
  • The UK
  • The USA
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  1. Before “same” or “whole” and after “both” and “all”
  • Is it the same book that I had given you?
  • The whole class is absent today.
  • All the boys are playing.
  • Both the girls are weeping.
  1. Before the adjectives of the second (comparative) degree 
  •       when they depend on each other.
  •       The higher you go, the cooler it is.
  •       The more you earn, the more you want.

Before the names of a single bird, animal, vegetable, fruit, etc to make it represent its whole class.

  • The mango is like by all.
  • The dog is a faithful animal.
  • The lion eats meat.
  • The banana grows in Karachi and Sindh.
  • The cuckoo does not make a nest.
  • The carrot contains several vitamins.

When a proper noun is present in the form of a common noun.                  

  • Joe is the Shakespeare of Poetry.
  • She is the Lady Diana of their circle.

          Common Pitfalls in the use of Articles

  • Locus is a man of few words.   (Incorrect)

Locus is a man of few words.   (Correct)

  • Do not make noise.                  (Incorrect)

Do not make a noise.               (Correct)

  • I have a work to do.                 (Incorrect)

I have word to do.                   (Correct)

  • He gave me an advice.            (Incorrect)

He gave me advice.                 (Correct)

  • He has got an unemployment.(Incorrect)

He has got employment.         (Correct)

  • He caught me by neck.            (Incorrect)

He caught me by a neck.         (Correct)

  1. Night follows day.                   (Incorrect)

Night follows the day.             (Correct)

          Definite Article When used & not

In the following cases, “the” will not be used.

  1. Before the proper noun.
  • Joe is my best friend
  • U.S. is a beautiful country.
  • Before the names of languages.
  • Persian is spoken in most of Iran.
  • He speaks English.
  • Before some participle nouns, for example, swimming, riding, reading, dancing, etc.
  • Before heaven, hell, and heavenly bodies far away and not affecting our life like Venus, Mars, etc.
  • Before plural nouns. But we use “the” before them when we particularize them.
  • The birds you like to see are here.
  • The houses of our friends are in the next street.
  • Before the names of days and months
  • It is Friday today.
  • June is hot.
  • Before the names of common nouns while addressing them.
  • Boys, be attentive.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, lend me your ears.

Solved Examples of the Articles

IncorrectCorrect
The virtue is its own reward.Virtue is its own reward.
Horse is a faithful animal.The horse is a faithful animal.
The English is the language of English.English is the language of English.
The both men were arrested.Both the men were arrested.
He is an European.He is a European.
Americans are sincere people.Americans are sincere people.
He is wisest man in his village.He is the wisest man in his village.
The honesty is the best policy.Honesty is the best policy
More we get, more we want.The More we get, The more we want.
A white and a brown dog is barking.A white and a brown dog are barking.
Do not make noise.Do not make a noise.
The man is mortal.Man is mortal.
She is taller of the two.She is the taller of the two.
Set a clock back, it goes fast.Set the clock back, it gains time.
What beautiful flower this is!What a beautiful flower this is!
The Christmas comes but once a year.Christmas comes but once a year
I keep bad boys at an arm’s length.I keep bad boys at arm’s length.
Moon has appeared.The moon has appeared.
I shall buy pen and pencil.I shall buy a pen and a pencil.
The iron is hard and the silk is soft.Iron is hard and silk is soft.
The lion’s roar and the horses neigh.Lions roar and horses neigh.
We can never accept the defeat in the poverty.We can never accept defeat in poverty.

Exercises on the articles

Exercise No.1

Complete the following sentences by putting the right articles where required:

  1. He is _____ honorable man.
  2. We started late in ____ afternoon.
  3. ___ soldier lost an arm in a battle.
  4. I want to study in ____ Far East.
  5. I have been ill for ___ last two days.
  6. Bees get honey from ____ flowers.
  7. You won’t find ____ house like ___ one you are occupying at present.
  8. Do ___ruler of this country has the right aims?
  9. Mathematics is ___ difficult subjects.
  10. ___ Thames flows through London.

Answers:

  1. A       2. The         3. The         4. The         5. The

6. The    7. a, the      8. The         9.A              10.The

Exercise No.2

Complete the following sentences by putting the right articles where required:

  1. ___ chair is made of wood.
  2. I saw ___ lion and ___ owl.
  3. I gave him ____ egg.
  4. Nick is ___ honest man.
  5. ___ cat has ___ tail.
  6. We write ___ letter on ___ paper.
  7. ___ bread is made from flour.
  8. ___ sugar, as well as ___ mango, is sweet.
  9. He looks as stupid as ____ ass.
  10. 10 ___ knife is made of ___ iron.
  11. 11 ___an eye is blue or brown.
  12. 12. I am ___ young boy but he is ____ old man.
  13. 13. I have ___umbrella and ___ stick.
  14. 14. We make ___ butter and ___ cheese from milk.
  15. 15. Locus is ___ honorable man but his son is ___ thief.

Answers:

  1. a        2. a, an       3. an            4. A             5. the, a

6. a, an  7. an            8. the, a      9. an           10. a,an

11. a      12. a,an      13. an, a     14. a, a       15. an, a

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