An article is a word used to modify a noun, which is a person, place, object, or idea. Technically, an article is an adjective, which is any word that modifies a noun. Usually adjectives modify nouns through description, but articles are used instead to point out or refer to nouns.

An article is a kind of adjective which is always used with and gives some information about a noun. There are only two articles a and the, but they are used very often and are important for using English accurately.

Articles are two types:

Definite Article

Indefinite Article

A) Definite Article (the): The definite articleis used to refer to a particular member of a group or class. It may be something that the speaker has already mentioned or it may be something uniquely specified.


  1. It is used with the nouns which have already been introduced in the conversation.

She has drawn a picture.

The picture attracted many people

  1. With a noun whose identify is clear to the listener or the reader from the context.

The maths lecturer asked the students to open the books

  1. Before a noun which is unique or one of its kind.

Example:  The earth revolves around the sun

  1. With adjectives to represent a class of people.

Example: The young ought to respect the elderly

  1. With a singular noun to represent a whole class.

Example: The cow gives five litres of milk a day

But the two nouns, man and woman can be used in a general sense without either article.

Example: Man is one of the greatest creations of god

  1. Before some proper nouns, viz. these kinds of place names:

Oceans & Seas — the Atlantic ocean e) Rivers – The Brahmaputhra river

b) Gulfs – The Persian gulf   f) Deserts –   The Sahara

Groups of islands – The Andaman Islands g) Mountain ranges – The Himalayas

A very few names of countries, which include words like republic and kingdom.

The U.K.    the Czech Republic

  1. Before the names of holy book.

The bible, the vedas

  1. Before the names of Inventions.

Example: The internet has revolutionized the communication system

  1. Before a superlative adjective followed by a noun.

Example: It is the best movie

  1. Before a proper noun when it is qualified by an adjective or a defining adjective clause.

Example: The great Krishna Devaraya. The immortal Gandhi

The Ramu whom you met last night is my sibling.

  1. With ordinals: The sixth lesson is very interesting.
  2. Before musical instruments. He can play the
  3. Before a noun (with emphasis) to give the force of a superlative.

Example: An apple is the fruit for good health

  1. As an adverb with comparatives

Example: The higher one goes, the cooler it gets.

  1. With the words like ‘middle’, ‘top’, ‘end’, ‘first’, ‘next’ and ‘centre’.

Example: At the end of the book.   In the middle of the conversation

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B) Indefinite Article (a, an): the indefinite articlesare “a” and “an.” Now, in other languages, when choosing which indefinite articleto use, you may have to think about the gender of the noun, its spelling and the spelling of any adjectives that come before it

The Uses of Indefinite Article (a, an):


An egg

an owl an hour

an heir

an honourable man

an honest person

an M.L.A

an N.C.C. student (but a NATO member)

an F.I.R

an X-ray

an  L.L.B

an H.C.L. product

an R.S.S. activist (but a RAW officer)

an S.P. (but a SIM card)

A boy

a unit of currency

a university

a European country

a one-eyed beggar

  1. A/an used before SCN may mean ‘one’ in some cases.

Example: I bought a book and an ink pen yesterday

  1. A/an sometimes means ‘anyone’ of a particular type or thing.

Example: Give me a mango and an orange

With uncountable nouns, we use ‘some’ in these situations.

Give me some water

  1. A/an is sometimes used to refer to a person’s occupation.

Example: He is an accountant and his wife is a lecturer

  1. A/an is sometimes used to refer to a type/class/species.

Example: A cow is a useful animal

  1. A/an can also be used in the sense of every/per.

Example: He sold the tomatoes at twenty rupees a kilo

  1. A/an can be used when a person or thing is mentioned for the first time in the conversation

Example: I saw a snake yesterday

  1. A/an can be used while defining something.

Example: An owl is a nocturnal animal

Example: A magician is one who performs magic

  1. A/an is used when someone or something is described or to say what type of person someone is or what type of thing something is.

Example:  Latin is a classical language.

  1. Used in the vague sense of a certain.

Example: A Ravi is suspected by the police (= a certain person named Ravi)

  1. To make a common noun of a proper noun.

Example: He thinks he is an Abdul Kalam

  1. With the names of special meals

He is arranging a dinner for his friends

In exclamations

Example: What an intelligent person he is!

Example: What a nice portrait!

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