How to Choose Articles (A, An, The) – #20076

Loading☐ Mark this lesson as complete.

How to Choose Articles (A, An, The) – #20076

Although these three little words seem so simple, they are actually some of the hardest English words to master! Read these rules, and then test yourself to see if you can choose the correct word for each blank.

business englishRules for THE

Articles A An The
Use “the” before a noun when…

1. The listener knows the exact thing you are talking about.
The speech was really long. (The listener heard the speech, too.)

The car was speeding. (The listener knows what car you are describing.)

2. There is only one in the world.
The Internet has made my life easier. (There is only one Internet.)

The moon is bright. (We have only one moon!)

3. The noun represents a place in a community that everyone knows or shares.
I went to the bank. (Even if you don’t go to the same bank, you should still use “the.”)

We use articles with these community places: library / gym / doctor / bank / gas station

4. The noun represents a public service or system.
I called the fire department.

I took the bus.

Other examples: the police, the ambulance, the paramedics, the train, the subway (However, we don't say I took the taxi. or I called the 911.)

Don't “the” before a noun when…

1. The noun is a proper noun (a name, city, company).
She works for Google.

I live in California.

*However, we DO use “the” when referring to “the United States" and other countries with states, union, or republic in their names. We also use "the" with countries that end is "s" like "the Philippines."

2. The noun is a concept or idea like love or an area of study like history.
They wanted more independence from their manager.

I studied English in school.

business englishRules for A & AN

Use “a” or “an” before a noun when…

1. The noun is general (not a specific one.)
I saw an interesting website today. (The listener doesn't know which website yet.)
However, when you talk about this website again, you will say, The website was interactive.

2. The noun is one of many; the listener does not know exactly which one you are talking about.
I ate an apple for lunch. (There are many apples, and you ate one.)

*Using AN*
Use “an” when the noun that follows it starts with a pronounced vowel: We say, “an underachiever” but “a university.” The u in underachiever is pronounced as a vowel, but the u in university is pronounced with the consonant "y" sound.

A note about plural nouns

Do not use "a" or "an" with plural nouns, You CAN use "the".
Universities are getting more an more expensive these days.

All the companies I applied to are in California.

english grammar practiceARTICLE QUIZ

Article Quiz
Select the correct article in each sentence. Select "x" if no article is needed. Write your answer in the box and click "check answers" at the bottom.

Subscribe to MyOvient to Unlock Quiz

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Choose a Lesson

  • Member Login