Articles A – An – The (Definition & Grammar Usage) ✅


a vs an


Articles A-AN-THE definition

The indefinite articles A/AN are used when talking about a general or non-specific noun.

  • Where is a teacher?
  • A book is on the table.
  • Did you bring a cake?

But unlike the definite article, A/AN can only be used with singular countable nouns. We can’t say a teachers, a books, a cakes.

Instead we use the definite article: the teachers, the books, the cakes.

  • Where are the teachers?
  • The books are on the table.
  • Did you bring the cakes?


In English, we use an with any noun that starts with a vowel sound, NOT with a noun that starts with a vowel. This is very important because many nouns that start with a vowel don’t have a vowel sound such as university, we say a university NOT an university. Also, many vowel sounding words don’t start with a vowel for example hour, we say an hour.

Below is a list of nouns you can use ‘an’ with:

  • an oven
  • an apple
  • an honour
  • an octopus
  • an auntie
  • an injury
  • an umbrella
  • an egg

Here is a list of nouns used with A:

  • a table
  • a pillow
  • a university
  • a cake
  • a bed
  • a utopia

Here is a list of nouns used with An:

  • an oven
  • an orange
  • an honour
  • an invention
  • an hour
  • an evening

Here are examples of how we use A and An in a sentence:

  • There is a university close to here.
  • The movie starts in an hour.
  • There is an octopus in the water.
  • The new house doesn’t have an oven but it has a washing machine.
  • I need an umbrella, it’s raining outside.

THE is called a definite article, we use the with all nouns and for specific nouns, like a certain person or a particular thing.

For example:

  • Where is the teacher?
  • The book is on the table
  • Did you bring the cake?

The examples above are talking about specific things or people. In the first example, they are looking for a specific teacher, maybe a biology teacher or an English teacher. They are not looking for any teacher, they want to know where that particular teacher is.

The other two examples have a similar concept, example two is talking about a specific book on a specific table. And the third example is talking about a particular cake, maybe a birthday cake or a wedding cake.

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