Articles- A, An,The



 Source - NCED Self Learning Materials


The adjectives A or An and The are generally called articles. They are mostly used as determiners.

Types of Articles:

There are two types of articles --- 'Definite' and 'Indefinite'

 Articles A and An are called indefinite and article the is called definite.

 A or An is called the indefinite article as it indicates the people or things in general sense. 

Examples: a teacher (that is, any teacher) an umbrella (that is, any umbrella)

The is called the definite article, because it points out a particular person or thing. Examples:

I saw 'a man' lying on the road. (Anyone, does not matter who) A policeman came and took 'the man' to hospital. (Now the same man who is referred to in the previous example.)

Where to use 'a' or 'an'? 

The article 'a' is used before a countable noun that begins with a consonant sound, 

The article 'an' is used before a countable noun that starts with a vowel sound. 

For example:  
an orange,
an apple
an ink-pot,
an ass, 
an enemy, 
an umbrella, 
an hour, 
an honest man, 
an heir, 
an M.A. etc.

Note: The words 'hour', 'honest' and 'heir' begin with a vowel sound.


a donkey, a monkey, a ruler, a woman, a yard, a hole, a university, a union, a European, a ewe, a useful person, a unicorn, a B.A. etc. 

Because the words such as university, union, European, ewe, useful, unicorn, etc. begin with a consonant sound, i.e. /j/ 

'o', we use the article 'a' before all these words. Likewise, we say: a one-rupee note, a one-eyed person, a one-man show, etc. 

Note: You can notice that in the above phrases 'one' begins with a consonant sound, i.e. /w/. Therefore, we should always use the article 'a' before one.

The definite article 'the' is normally used: 

 • When we speak of a particular person or thing, or one already referred to. 

For examples: 

 The book on the table is mine. 
 The girl with a long nose is my sister. 
 I helped the man who came to me.

When a singular noun is meant to represent a whole class. 

    The cow is a useful animal. 
    The rose is the sweetest of all flowers. 

With Superlatives. 

     Prerana is the best student in her class. 
     Prashant is the tallest boy in his group. 
     This is the best book I have ever read. 
     Mt. Everest is the highest mountain in the world. 
    (best/ tallest/ highest are superlatives)

With names of gulfs, rivers, seas, oceans, groups of islands, and mountain ranges. 

    The Persian Gulf 
    The Himalayas, etc. 
     The Ganges is a sacred river.
    The Red Sea 
    The Indian Ocean 
    The Alps 
     London is situated on the river Thames.

With ordinals 

Pritija was the first girl to arrive at the party. 
The fifth chapter of this novel is very boring. 

Before the names of certain books 

The Ramayan The Mahabharat The Geeta The Bible The Kuran The Vedas, etc. 

Before the unique nouns

The earth 
The sky 
The universe 
 The sun 
The moon, etc. 

Before the musical instruments

The madal 
The piano 
The guitar 
The flute, etc. 

Before the names of newspapers 

The Kathmandu Post 
The Rising Nepal 
The Himalayan Times, etc. 

Before plural nouns of countries 

The USA, The UK, The Netherlands, etc. 

Before the names of ships

The Titanic, The Mary Celeste, etc. 

Before the parts of day

in the morning, in the evening, in the afternoon 

When something is mentioned second time, 

He bought a bicycle. The bicycle was made in China.

Before the names of direction and poles,

the west, the east, the North pole, the south pole 

Before names of the periods of history, 

The Victorian age, The Renaissance, the modern age 

Before names of nationalities / religious/ races/ positions or posts 

the Nepalese, the Hindus, the Black, the Prime minister, the President 

Before the names of scientific innovations

the computer, the telephone 

Before proper and abstract nouns to make them common 

Bal Krishna Sum is the Shakespeare of Nepal. 
She is the beauty of the town. 

No Article: 

If plural nouns, uncountable nouns are definite, we use the article 'the', if they are not definite, we use no article
For example:
 Milk is white. 
The milk in this glass is hot. 
Horses are animals. 
The horses in that stable run fast. 

We use no article with proper nouns. If they are compared, we use article 'the'. 
For example: 
Shakespeare is a great English poet. 
Balkrishna Sama is 'the' Shakespeare of Nepal. 

We use no article with abstract nouns if it is not specified in the context. 

 Honesty is the best policy. 

We generally use no article with the names of languages, subjects, games, days, months, diseases. 

We use no article with these expressions: by bus, by air, by mistake, at first sight, on foot, on duty, at once, in time etc. 

Before the names of the metals, e.g. Gold is a very expensive metal. 

Before names of seasons

Before names of relation : father, mother , brother 

Before school, college, university, temple, mosque, church, hospital, when these places are visited for their primary purpose 

He goes to college every day. 
She goes to temple every morning. 

If these places are visited for other purposes, the definite article 'the' is used before them as

He goes to the college to meet is father. 

1. Amrita is ………useful member in our club. (a, an, the) 
2. This is …… which I like to visit most. (a, an, the) 
3. He plays ……. guitar well. (a, an, the) 
4. Nile is ……..longest river in the world (a, an, the) 
5. It is ….one rupee note. (a, an, the) 
6. That is ……… I like most. (a, an, the) 
7. She is ……………..MBBS doctor (a, an, the) 
8. Mr. Joshi is …….honorable person. (a, an, the) 
9. We played ……football yesterday. (a, an, the, no article) 
10. New zealand is …..island. (a, an, the)
11. There is …..ewe beside him, (a, an, the) 
12. John is from ……village. (a, an, the) 
13. Peter is from……USA. (a, an, the) 
14. I like……computer. (a, an, the) 
15. Who invented……telephone? (a, an, the) 
16. She went to…… as usual. (a, an, the, no article) 
17. They went to………temple to observe its architecture. (a, an, the, no article) 
18. …………milk in the bottle is fresh. (A, An, The) 
19. Don't hate………….poor. (a, an, the) 
20. …………….honesty is the best policy. (a, an, the, no article) 
21. Ram is …….Christian. (a, an, the, no article) 
22. Who is ….second person to climb the mountain? (a, an, the, no article) 
23. The hotel is situated by ……..sea. (a, an, the, no article) 
24. It is very hard to gain ……..popularity. (a, an, the, no article) 
25. I waited for ……….hour.(a, an, the, no article)

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