Articles for intermediate learners

Articles are used as modifiers for nouns. However, some nouns do not need to be modified. In this lesson, we will learn about them.

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What Are Articles in English?

What Are Articles?

When we want to modify nouns or noun phrases, we use articles. Articles are necessary in most cases. In this lesson, we will learn all about them.

What Kinds of Articles Do We Have?

The article we use when we want to indicate nouns differs based on the nouns' structures. We have two types of articles in English. Take a look at the following list:

Take a look at the following examples:

She is trying to find a job.

Let's wait and see what the doctor says.

Definite Article

When we want to talk about a specific person or item, we use the definite article. We have only one definite article that is 'the'. Let us study the following examples:

Sheila wanted to talk to you about the mysterious event that happened to her.

As you can see, the sentence is indicating a specific event, not just simply an event.

Shall we go to the ball?

How Do We Use the Definite Article?

As mentioned above, the definite article is used when we want to modify specific, particular nouns. Study the following examples:

How dare he talk to the boss like that?

Look at the dazzling blue rose.

Indefinite Articles

When we want to talk about unspecific, general nouns, we use indefinite articles. There are two types of indefinite articles in English that are 'a' and 'an'. Let us examine some examples below:

As I was walking home the other day, I was thinking about climbing a tree sometime.

An epic poem is long.

Warning!

Please note that indefinite articles are only used with singular, countable nouns that are unspecific. On the contrary, the definite article can be used with either singular or plural forms. Compare the following examples:

She took the homeless cats to an animal shelter.

I want to sit on a tree branch right now.

What Is the Difference between 'A' and 'An'?

The only difference between 'a' and 'an' is that 'a' comes with nouns that begin with a consonant sound and 'an' comes with nouns that begin with a vowel sound. Take a look at the following examples:

She wants to buy an umbrella.

As you can see, the noun begins with a vowel sound.

How could you count on a fool like him?

Here, the noun begins with a consonant.

Warning!

Please note that not all nouns that begin with a vowel letter have necessarily vowel sounds and vice versa. Study the following examples carefully:

I have an hour left.

As you can see, 'an' is used with a word beginning with a consonant letter but a vowel sound.

Give me an umbrella.

Here, 'an' is used with a word that begins with a vowel letter and has a vowel sound.

How Do We Use Indefinite Articles?

As mentioned above, indefinite articles are used when we want to point out unspecific, general people or items. Remember that indefinite articles are mainly used with singular, countable nouns. Check out the following examples:

I think I just saw a girl talking to a cat on the street.

Adrian just went to buy her an ice cream.

Tip!

It is useful to know that when we have no articles, we call it the zero article condition. Mainly, when we use proper nouns such as names, academic subjects, countries' names, etc. we have zero articles. Take a look at the following examples:

Anna is reading her book.

(Not the Anna or an Anna..)

She studied English Literature.

(Not the English Literature or an English Literature...)

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Demonstrative Determiners

Demonstrative determiners in English are this, these, that and those. They are used to identify the person or thing that is being referred to.

Indefinite Determiners

Indefinite determiners are determiners that express quantity or the indefinite ideas of quality. They agree in number and gender with the noun they modify.

Relative Determiners

Relative determiners modify nouns within a relative clause. Follow the article to learn more about them.

Indefinite Articles

The indefinite articles in English language are 'a/an'. They refer to a noun for the first time or a general noun when its identity is unknown.

Definite Article

The definite article in English language is 'the'. It is used before a noun to show that the noun is known to the reader. Learn about this useful article!

Zero Article

Some nouns and noun phrases are used with no articles preceding them. In this article, we will learn about them.

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