Usage of Articles- ‘A, An & The’ in the English Language

Articles Usage - ‘A, An & The' in the English Language

In the 21st century, the language you use reflects a lot about your personality. From academia to corporates, your language and grammar are significantly important. Various competitive exams namely, MBA entrances, Law entrances, Bank & SSC exams give weightage to the English Language section. Questions in this section aim to test your comprehension skills and English grammar concepts. Hence, it is essential to have conceptual clarity on usage of article in English grammar.

This post will provide tips on usage of articles (A, An & The) in English Language.

You all must have studied the usage of articles in your primary schools but to brush up your concepts, let’s glance through types of articles:

(i)   The Indefinite Articles
(ii) The Definite Article

The Indefinite Articles: ‘A’ and ‘An’ are used with singular nouns.
The Definite Article: The

Tips on usage of ‘A’

Moving further, here are some tips on usage of ‘A’.

(a) ‘A’ is used before words beginning with an alphabet having a consonant sound.
Examples:  a bat, a man

(b) ‘A’ is used before words that begin with alphabets with the sound like ‘wa’.
Examples: a one-rupee, one-eye

(c) ‘A’ is used before words beginning with ‘u’ or ‘eu’.
Examples: a university, a European

Tips on usage of ‘An’

Go through the tips on usage of ‘An’.

(a) ‘An’ is used before words beginning with vowel sound.
Examples:  an apple, an egg

(b) ‘An’ is used before words beginning with ‘h’.
Examples: an hour, an honest person

Tips on usage of ‘The’

Here are rules that will come handy while using definite article ‘The’.

  • Before the names of the historical  or public buildings:  The Red Fort, The White House
  • Before the names of rivers, seas & oceans: The Ganga, The Bay of Bengal, The Pacific Ocean
  • Before groups of islands: The Andamans
  • Before the names of mountains & peaks: The Everest, The Alps, The Andes
  • Before the names of countries which are a union of smaller units: The U.S.A., The UAE
  • Before the names of political parties: The BJP
  • Before the names of deserts: The Kalahari, The Sahara
  • Before the names of newspapers: The Times Of India, The Hindu
  • Before the dates of months: the 8 October 1995, the 15th August 1947
  • Before the names well-known or scared books: The Bible, The Gita
  • Before certain adjectives to give a plural meaning: The rich = rich people
  • Before musical instruments: The piano, The sitar, The guitar
  • Before superlative degree of adjectives: The best, The coldest
  • While comparing two or more situations: The more you study, the more marks you will get.
  • When talking about a specific thing or person:

Example: This is the pen gifted by my father.

  • Before ‘only’

Example: He is the only child in his family.

  • Before ordinal numbers, such first, millionth etc.

Examples: All the first year students are going for picnic.

The third answer is incorrect.

He is the fifteenth candidate in the row.

Actual exam questions

Now, let’s see various type of questions asked in competitive examinations, namely UG entrances, Bank, Railways, TOEFL, etc.

  1. Let us play —– chess.
  2. He hopes to join —– university soon.
  3. —– Oranges are grown in Nagpur
  4. —– rich should be merciful.
  5. Ram was —– best student in the class.
  6. India will become —– super power shortly.
  7. —– apples I bought are sour.
  8. Let us go to a restaurant and have —– coffee.
  9. It is —— absurd story.
  10. Taj Mahal is built of —– marble.

Hope this article gave you conceptual clarity on usage of articles. Stay tuned for more articles.

Also read, Top 10 English Grammar mistakes

How to solve sentence correction question in English Language