An article is an important part of speech. It is sometimes referred to as a determiner- as it tells the listener how an object is referenced- but it can also be described as an adjective- as it always goes before the noun. An article explains the reference to the noun. There are three articles in English: ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’. Which one is used is based on the noun, what it refers to and whether it’s a definite or indefinite noun.

In English we use ‘a’ or ‘an’ depending on what the noun starts with for an indefinite noun. For plurals, we use ‘some’.

If the noun starts with a vowel sound- a, e, i, o, u- then we used ‘an’. For example: I ate an apple this morning.
If the noun starts with a consonant- every letter besides a, e, i, o, u- we use ‘a’. For example: I ate a banana this morning.
If the noun is plural we use ‘some’. For example: I ate some apples and bananas this morning.
As always, there are exceptions to the rule. Depending on how a word is pronounced, sometimes it won’t follow the rules above. For example the word ‘used’ to refer to something as not new, does not have ‘an’ in front of it, because of the sound. We say: a used car.

In English we use ‘the’ if the noun that is being referred to is definite. This can used for singular or plural nouns. The definite article is used for emphasis, or if the speaker refers to something obvious or common knowledge.

Singular: I drove past the house that we liked. (This refers to a specific house in reference)
Plural: I drove past the houses we liked. (This refers to specific houses in reference).

 

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