A, An, or The?

One difficult part of English is articles – but we use them a lot, so it’s important to know them. There are three articles in the English language: “a,” “an,” and “the.”

“A” and “an” are called indefinite articles because they are used when we talk about something in general, or when we talk about something for the first time. We use “an” when the next word begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) and we use “a” with words that begin with a consonant (all the other letters in the alphabet). In addition, we only use “a” and “an” with singular count nouns:

There was an earthquake in Japan two years ago.         

How much does a new car cost?         

Is there a bathroom in this building?

“The,” on the other hand, is a definite article.We use it when we’re talking about something specific, or when we continue to talk about something we’ve introduced. “The” can be used for singular or plural nouns, count or non-count:

The people in my class are very friendly.       

The refrigerator is broken!          

I took the F Train this morning.

Read the following story, and pay special attention to the articles:

Last night I found a cockroach in my kitchen. The cockroach was very big and very fast. I picked up a newspaper to kill it, but the newspaper was too soft. Then I picked up a frying pan. I was able to kill the cockroach, but then I had to wash the frying pan. I washed the frying pan in the sink, but when I finished, I saw a second cockroach. The second cockroach was even bigger than the first one!

Now watch the video lesson to learn more, then you can take the quiz to test your knowledge!

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2 thoughts on “A, An, or The?

  1. Se Bai Ling says:

    An adjective modifies a noun. Modify means to change a little. An adjective describes or gives information about the noun. An adjective usually comes in front of a noun.

  2. Lilyan Mei says:

    It is not easy for ESL students to use articles. Thank you for teaching how to use them. It is useful for us.

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