Use of Articles (a an and the)

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Use of Articles (a, an, and the)

Use of articles (a an and the) in English grammar is one of the most important topics. In an environment where English is the second language, there is a lot of stress on learning grammar. Consequently, the use of articles (a an and the) is one of the key issues in any class dealing with English grammar. ‘English articles‘, is one of the complex topics. Also, there are somewhat mythical statements about the use of articles (a, an, and the). Let me make it clear, however, that there is nothing mythical about the use of articles (a an and the); everything follows certain rules. Hence, articles in English grammar is a tangible topic.

Doubtlessly, it needs rigorous hard work to master the use of articles (a an and the). One of the easiest ways to master the use of articles (a an and the) is through classification. Since articles in English grammar modify nouns and, eventually, tell us whether a noun is specific or unspecific, it is better, therefore, to classify them. Following this classification, observe which of them may take a definite article (the) or indefinite article (a/an). In this way, one may generate some patterns that will serve as rules for the use of articles. This page, therefore, focuses on such rules. So, it will enable you to make good use of articles in your writing and speech.

Table of Contents

Use of Articles

A       An    The


There are two types of articles.

Indefinite Articles: A & An

Definite Article: The


Use article “A” before words that start with a consonant or a vowel with a consonant sound.

A boy              A university (Vowel with a consonant sound)

A girl               A European tourist (Vowel with a consonant sound)

A chair

ü  I came across a beggar in the lane.

ü  He is planning to buy a new car.

Use Article “An” before words that start with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u), or words that begin with a silent ‘h’.

An umbrella              An hour (Silent h)

An onion                   An honest man (Silent h)

An ice-cream            An essay

ü  I shall see you in an hour.

ü  He offered me an ice-cream.

Use article “An” before individual letters that give out vowel sounds.

An MP           

An S                           


ü  Spenser Churchill’s name began with an ‘S’.

ü  He is an MA while his sister is a BA.

Use article “A/An” before singular countable nouns.

ü  He is a renowned scholar.  

ü  I need a bicycle.                               

ü  She bought an ice-cream.

ü  He is an activist.

Use article “A/An” before countable singular nouns to be used as an example of a class.

ü  A child needs complete attention from parents.

ü  Comfort is the first thing we notice when we buy a car.

Use article “A/An” when a singular countable noun is introduced/mentioned for the first time in a discussion. The same noun takes article “The” before it when we say it again.

ü  A boy ran down the hill. The boy hurt himself while doing so.

ü  We met a teacher on the way. The teacher was very old.

Use article “A/An” with a proper name when the identity of the person is uncertain.

ü  There was a Mr. Basit waiting for you at the counter.

ü  A Mr. Shahid is behind all this conspiracy.

Use article “A/An” to mean “one” when we count or measure time, distance, weight, money etc. in the singular.

ü  He gave me one/a hundred rupees (Rs. 100) for that pen.

ü  His school is one/a kilometer from his home.

ü  They reached there in one/an hour.


Use article “The” with the names of objects that are unique.

ü  The earth

ü  The sea

ü  The equator

Use article “The” with the names of holy/divine books

ü  The Holy Quran

ü  The Bible

Use article “The” with the names of nations, religious groups, and sects.

ü  The Pakistanis are a proud nation.

ü  The Hindus are polytheists.

ü  The Catholics are an old sect in Christianity.

Use article “The” with the names of the rivers, the seas, mountain ranges, and oceans.

ü  The Indus is the longest river of Pakistan.

ü  The Arabian Sea is the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean.

ü  The Himalayas are known for the highest mountains in the world.

Use article “The” with the names of gulfs, bays, and capes.

ü  The Gulf of Mexico is surrounded by the North American continent.

ü  The Bay of Bengal forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean.

ü  The Cape of Good Hope, a rocky headland, is on the Atlantic coast in South Africa.

Use article “The” with the names of deserts, plural islands, and countries with plural names.

ü  The Sahara is the biggest desert in Africa.

ü  The West Indies is surrounded by the North Atlantic Ocean.

ü  The Netherlands is known for its tulip fields.

Use article “The” with the names of countries that include words ‘states, republic, united, and kingdom’.

ü  The United States of America

ü  The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Use article “The” with the names of historical or famous buildings.

ü  The Badshahi Mosque is an attractive place for tourists.

ü  The Habib Bank Plaza is a renowned building in Karachi.

Use article “The” with the titles when not followed by the real name.

ü  The Quaid-i-Azam is the founder of Pakistan.

ü  The Bard of Passions is the title of Shakespeare.

But if followed by the real name, do not use article “The” with a title.

ü  Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a great leader.

Use article “The” with the titles of the newspapers.

ü  The Jang is a famous Urdu daily in Pakistan.

Use article “The” with ordinal numbers.

ü  The first boy in the row is my brother.

ü  He lives in the third street on the right.

Use article “The” with directions.

ü  The North     The South     The East     The West

If the direction comes after a preposition, use ‘The’ with it.

ü  She looked to the north and found a sandstorm rising there.

If the direction comes after the verb, it takes no article.

ü  He went south and never came back.

Use article “The” while addressing the heads or office bearers of institutes.

ü  The Chairman,

ü  The Principal,

ü  The Secretary,

Use article “The” with the singular name of an animal or a bird to represent the whole class of the animal or the bird.

ü  The horse and the dog are considered faithful animals.

ü  The parrot is known for its ability to imitate the human voice.

Use article “The” with the surname in the plural form to denote the whole family.

ü  The Zaibs are known for their fondness for travelling.

ü  The Smiths did not attend the party.

Use article “The” with a proper noun to make it qualify as another noun.

ü  Faisalabad is the Manchester of Pakistan.

ü  Ahmad is the Shoaib Akhtar of our team.

Use article “The” with a superlative degree of adjective.

ü  He is the wisest of us all in our group of friends.

ü  She is the prettiest girl I have ever seen.

Use article “The” with a comparative degree of adjective when it is followed by ‘of’ instead of ‘than’.

ü  Ali and Shan are friends. Ali is the more intelligent of the two.

ü  She is the prettier of the two.

Use article “The” with an adjective to represent the whole class as a plural noun.

ü  The rich should not look down upon the poor.

ü  Fortune favours the brave.

Use article “The” before the words ‘whole’ and ‘same’.

ü  The whole scheme was a failure.

ü  I met the same boy twice.

Use article “The” after the words ‘both’ and ‘all’.

ü  I shall consider both the options.

ü  All the boys were excited about the excursion.


Do not use article “The” with God and things related to God.

ü  God is kind to us.

ü  God created paradise for the pious.

ü  Hell is the abode of the sinners.

Do not use article “The” with material and abstract nouns.

ü  Gold is a precious metal.

ü  Honesty always pays.

ü  Beauty is a nine-day’s wonder.

Exception: Use article “The”, anyhow, with material and abstract nouns when they are particularized.

ü  The gold we bought is of good quality.

ü  People remember him for the kindness he showed to his enemies.

Do not use article “The” with the names of games, diseases, and languages.

ü  Cricket is played all over the world.

ü  Cholera broke out in the city.

ü  English is the international lingua franca.

Exception: Article “The” is used when the word ‘language’ comes after any specific language.

ü  The English language is spoken all over the world.

Do not use article “The”, however, with the words ‘man’ and ‘woman’ whenever used in generalized form.

ü  Man is mortal.

ü  Woman is as important to society as is a man.


Thank You

You have, finally, read the rules about the use of articles. Therefore, in order to assess your comprehension of the topic, you should have a bit of practice. However, you should not go back to the rules while solving the quiz below. Doubtlessly, this quiz will enhance your comprehension of the use of articles (a, an, the). Consequently, it will add to your confidence while using the articles (a, an, the) in your speaking and writing. Nonetheless, you have to make sure not to get bogged down if the results are not up to your expectations. Because you always have another chance. So, read the rules on the use of articles again, and give it another attempt.


Use of Article

1 / 10

_____ Muslims recite _____ Holy Quran to seek guidance.

2 / 10

_____ Titanic met _____ accidetn while passing through _____ Atlantic.

3 / 10

He receives _____ hundred dollars _____ day for his services.

4 / 10

He broke _____ leg in _____ accident.

5 / 10

Apples are available at Rs. 200 _____ kilo in the market.

6 / 10

We meet many of our needs of energy with _____ coal.

7 / 10

His car ran into _____ tree, and the mark of collision is still visible on _____ tree.

8 / 10

There was _____ book on the table.

9 / 10

_____ open door at midnight is _____ invitation to a thief.

10 / 10

The government intends to open _____ university in the district.

4 thoughts on “Use of Articles (a an and the)”

  1. It is a very good page on the use of articles.
    It helped me a lot on the use of articles.
    Now it is quite easy for me to understand the use of articles


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