In this post we will read about determines and articles (a, an, the)

What are Determiners?

Look at the following sentences:

1. The pen is yellow.

2. This umbrella is mine.

3. Some girls are eating.

In the above sentences the highlighted words the, this, some are words that fix the nouns that follow them. These words are called determiners.

More examples:

Neither of the girls went there.

Give me a book.

Twenty students were present in the class.

This is our village.

That is our school.

The highlighted words are called determiners.

Types of determiners

The following types of words come under determiners.

1. Articles: a, an, the

2. Possessive adjectives: his, her, my, your, our, its

3. Demonstrative adjectives: this, that, these, those

4. Interrogative adjectives: who, which, what

5. Distributive adjectives: every, each, either, neither

6. Adjectives of number and quantity: one two, three, four, five, etc.

What is an Article?

Articles are a very important word in English. Articles are used before only nouns. They impart accuracy to the nouns. They function as adjectives.

Types of articles

There are two types of articles.

1. Indefinite articles (A, An)

2. Definite article (The)

Now we discuss two types of articles.

1. Indefinite articles: ‘A‘ and ‘An‘ are called indefinite articles because they do not point out any particular person or thing.

Such as, a boy means any boy

              a cat means any cat

             an egg means any egg

2. Definite article: ‘The‘ is called The definite article because it points out some particular person or persons or things.

Such as,

The girl means the girl of whom we are speaking.

The dog means the dog of whom we are speaking.

Rules of using articles with examples:

The use of indefinite articles A and An

The indefinite article ‘A’ is used:

1. before a word (singular noun) beginning with a consonant. Examples: a pen, a girl, a man, a woman, etc.
2. before a word (first letter vowel) beginning with a sound as ‘owa’. Examples: a one-rupee note, a one-eyed monster, etc.
3. before a word beginning with a vowel that has the sound of ‘yu’. Examples: a unit, a ewe, a union, a unique thing, a university, a European, etc.

The indefinite article ‘An’ is used:

1. before a word starts with a vowel. Examples: an egg, an ox, an umbrella, an apple, an elephant, etc.
2. before a word starts with a consonant that has vowel sound. Examples: an M.B.B.S., an M.D., an M.P. an F.I.R, an X-ray, etc.
3. before a word beginning with a silent letter ‘h’. Examples: an hour, an honest woman, an honorable, an heir, etc

Other uses of indefinite articles A and An

1. A or An is used before a singular countable noun as a representative of a class of animals, persons, and things.

For examples:

a. A daughter should obey her parents. (any in the sense of class)

b. A sunflower is a beautiful flower. (any in the sense of class)

c. A dog is a faithful animal. (any in the sense of class)

2. A represents as a preposition.


a. I earn seventy thousand rupees a year.

b. Tomatoes sale at half kilo a rupee.

3.  A and An is used in exclamations with what before a singular countable noun.


a. What a cold day!

b. What a beautiful lady!

c. What an awful comment!

4. A and An is used before certain phrases.


in a hurry,

to take an interest,

make a noise,

tell a lie

5. A is used before the words denoting numbers.


A million, A dozen, A hundred, A thousand, etc.

6. Indefinite articles are used before a person that is known to the speaker.


A Mr. Pal went there.  Here A Mr. Pal = Someone Mr. Pal

7. A is used before determinatives like few, little to give the sense of some.


There are a few mangoes in the field.

I have little money to buy a computer.


Rules for the use of Definite Article ‘The’

1. When we discuss a particular person or a thing as already mentioned or known.


a. The woman (which you mentioned) was a nurse.

b. The pen (which you mentioned) is available in the shop.

2. before proper nouns (unique objects) when they refer to the names of historical buildings, rivers, newspapers, seas, mountain ranges, ships, religious books, trains, planes, spacecraft, a geographical names that describe the place.

The names of:

Rivers: The Ganga, The Kaberi, The Jamuna etc.

Ocean: The Indian ocean

Newspapers: The Ananda Bazar Patrika, The States, The Hindu

Religious books: The Bible, The Geeta

Mountain ranges: The Himalayas, The Alps

Groups of Island: The Philippines, The Andamans

Trains, Spacecraft: The Rajdhani Express, The Sputnik

The countries with plural in the form: The United States of America (the U.S.A.), The Netherlands

Geographical name that describes the place: The Sahara, The Decan

3. Before a singular countable (common) nouns to represent a whole class.


a. The dog is a domestic animal.

b. The cow gives milk.

4. Before a singular noun referring to things of which only one exits.


The sun, The moon, The earth, etc.

5. Before musical instruments.


a. I can play the piano.

b. He is fond of playing the flute.

6. Before an adjective in the comparative degree that is used to denote the choice between two persons and things.


a. He is the fatter of the two boys.

b. Silver is the more valuable of the two metals.

7. Before an adjective in the superlative degree.


a. He is the best man for this job.

b. Lion is the strongest of all.

8. In idiomatic phrases.


a. Out of the question

b. Speak the truth.

c. In the air

9. Before the dates.


a. The 15th of August

b. The 22nd of January

c. The 9th of May


The Omission of Articles:

The articles ‘A/An, The’ are omitted.

No article is generally used when

1. before Proper, Abstract, or Material nouns except when they are particularized.


Krishnachandra (but the king Krishnachandra)

honesty (but the honesty of the man)

2. before father, mother when a particular one of them is meant.


Mother (my mother) gave me a gift for my birthday.

Father (my father) bought a cycle for me.

3. before common nouns in the plural noun except when they are particularised.


Cows give us milk.  (But he has sold the cows.)

Dogs eat meat. (But the dogs of my house guard at night.)

4. before the names of meals.


We have lunch at 1 p.m.

5. The words like church, school, college, market, hospital.


My father has gone to market.

I went to school yesterday.

Pappu admitted to hospital for better treatment.


Click Here To Read Also:

Uses of Capital Letters

Transformation of Degrees of Comparison



Degrees of Comparison of Adjectives

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