Three words are used as articles.
Of these, a and an are indefinite articles.
Because, the indefinite-articles are used to indicate not any specific object or subject in the sentence.
“The” is the only definite article
The definite article is used to indicate a specific object or subject in the sentence.
1. Indefinite articles:
• A man is standing at the corner of the road.
• An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
• He demolished a temple in the next town.
• What he needed was an umbrella.
• We need a building to set an office for our company.
• He gave me an onion.
• An honor of this type is what everybody dreams to get.
Uses of the Indefinite articles:
I. The indefinite articles are used before a singular countable noun.
• We want to construct a house for us.
• A ball costs only few cents.
• A boy was born to the couples two days back.
II. “An” is used before a word beginning with a vowel (or a vowel sound).
• He gave me an onion.
• An ass is leaping into your field.
• An enemy need not be far away from you. He may be beside you.
• An orange is what you have to take to overcome thirsty.
• Before you go out in the winter season, please remember to take an umbrella with you.
III. “A” is used before a word beginning with a consonant.
• A cat is running behind the rat.
• We need a man to safeguard our car.
• A hole in the boat will endanger its safety.
IV. “An” is used before the word beginning with ‘h’ in case the ‘h’ is silent in pronunciation.
• An hour is a long time for the students who take this examination.
• An honor of this type is what everybody dreams to get. (A vowel sound)
• It is difficult to find an honest policeman.
• The train was late by an hour.
V. “A” is used before the words beginning with a vowel which is pronounced like the ‘y’ in young.
• The employees of this company formed a union.
• A European is better placed to reach the Oxford University than an Asian.
• The government decided to set a university in this area of the country.
• The ornithologist has written about a unique bird.
VI. When the word ‘such’ is applied to countable things, the indefinite article is used after ‘such’.
• Mr. Ram is an honest man. You can not find such a man.
• He confused everybody with his witty talk. Such a blunder is rare to find in our lives.
VII. “A” is used in expression like:
• A few students came forward to organize this function.
• A little sugar should be added to this coffee.
• A certain number of books have been sold off by the authorities of this library.
VIII. The indefinite article is used when a singular noun stands for a whole group or species.
• A cow is a useful animal.
• A dog is a faithful animal.
Countable noun is the noun which can be counted as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6….
Five animals, seven students, eight stars, ten countries etc…
So, animals, stars, students, colleges, computers, countries, books and boats are countable nouns.
Uncountable nouns are the nouns which can not be counted.
Time, rice, sky, sugar, soil, water, honesty, virtue and wisdom are the nouns which can not be counted.
So, they are called uncountable nouns.
2. Definite articles:
• The lion is a majestic animal.
• The boy who is standing there is my nephew.
• The Andamans belong to India.
• The book that you wanted is not in this book-stall.
• The girl is not an Indian.
• You are welcome to the function.
Uses of definite articles:
The definite articles “the” is used as follows.
i. To refer to both countable nouns and uncountable nouns.
• The book is costly one.
• The pen is what He sells in his shop.
• The news is not sweet for our ears.
• The river is going through our city.
ii. To refer to a particular person or thing or one already mentioned in the sentence.
• There is a chair but the chair is broken.
• The book that you want is not available in this library.
• The President arrived by a special plane.
iii. To refer to a singular noun that represents a whole class.
• The elephant is a huge animal.
• The scientist is a useful person to the society.
The definite article “the” is used:
iv. With superlatives:
• The highest mountain is Mount Everest.
• This is the best book on Ornithology.
• The darkest night has its own dawn.
v. With ordinals:
• The tenth student in the last row has to stand up.
• The first man who arrives will be given a prize.
vi. Before musical instruments:
• He can play the flute.
• We have master the key-board at the early stage.
vii. Before the adjective when the noun is implied:
• The downtrodden (people) will vote him to power.
• The intelligent (students) will answer this question.
• The poor (people) will not agree to this policy.
viii. Before names of unique of their kind.
• The Sun is the source of all forms of energies.
• The Sky looks beautiful every night.
• The earth is the example of patience.
• The sea is the birth-place of many rare fishes.
The two words “Man” and “Woman” in the general sense do not take any article.
Man (not “The Man”) is the only animal that has intelligence.
ix. To refer to rivers, seas, oceans, groups of islands, mountains, ranges trains etc…
• The Frontier mail will arrive in time.
• The Bay of Bengal is tsunami affected ocean.
• The Andaman is a part of India.
x. To refer to Holy books.
• The Bhaghavat Gita is the sacred book of Indian.
• The Koran is a book of wisdom.
• The Bible is an age-old book.
“The” is not used when the author name of the book is used as follows.
• Valmiki’s Ramayana is one of the Epics of Hindus. (Not “Valmiki’s the Ramayana)
xi. To refer to a noun when it is preceded by an adjective.
• The immortal Keats has created many books of their own classes.
• The great Alexander followed Buddhism.
xii. To refer to the superlative degrees.
• The highest mountain is Mount Everest.
• The tallest man in our class is Mr. Oats.
• Ms. Sharma is the most beautiful girl in this state.
xiii. To refer to the people of a Country but not to their language.
o The French people are civilized people.
o The English Men are sensitive to this issue.
xiv. Before an adjective when the qualified noun is not mentioned.
• The strong should not oppress the weak.
• He works for the down-trodden.
xv. In certain expression like…
• The more you work, the more you earn.
The omission of articles:
The uses of articles should be avoided in few sentences to make the sentences meaningful.
I. To refer to proper noun.
• New Delhi is the capital of India. (Not “The New Delhi”)
• Nile is one of the longest rivers. (Not “The Nile”)
II. Before Abstract nouns when they are used in a general sense.
o Truth always triumphs. (Not “The Truth”)
o Suspicion should be based on evidence. (Not “The Suspicion”)
o Honesty is the best policy.
o Wisdom is the gift of heaven.
o Virtue is its own reward
III. Before material nouns.
o Silver is not as costly as Gold. (Not “The Silver”)
o Cotton is grown in several parts of India. (Not “The Cotton”)
IV. Before languages:
• We are learning English.
• He has planned to study French.
• They speak Hindi at home.
V. Before plural countable nouns when they are used in general sense.
o Children prefer playtimes.
o Computers offer various job-opportunities.
o Cars are sold like hot-cakes.
VI. Before names of relations:
• Father is the head a family.
• Son should shoulder the responsibility of the family.
• Daughter-in-law is nothing but a daughter.