The demonstrative adjectives a, an and the have been given the collective name ‘Articles’. These are divided into two categories:
1.The Indefinite Article: A or an
2. The Definite Article: The
1. The Indefinite Article
The form of the Indefinite article is a or an. The form ‘a’ is used before a word beginning with a consonant. It is also used with a word beginning with a vowel which sounds like a consonant:
a pen, a table, a boy
also: a university, a European, a useful thing.
The form ‘an’ is used before worth beginning with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) or words beginning with a mute ‘h’.
an owl, an elephant, an apple, an hour, an honourable man.
Uses of the Indefinite Article:
(a)It is used before a singular noun which is countable when it is mentioned for the first time.
I see a bird on that tree.
A house has a roof.
(b) Before a singular countable noun which is used as an example of the class of things or species.
A horse is an animal. A cow has horns.
A pine tree grows very tall.
(c) In the numerical sense of the word ‘one’. He gave me a gift.
Not a word was spoken.
(d) In expressions of price, speed, etc. a/an is used in the sense of ‘per’.
Milk sells eight rupees a kilo.
He drives at forty miles an hour.
(e) The names of professions and occupations take the indefinite article :
My father is a doctor.
He grew up to be a politician.
(f)Sometimes ‘a’ can be used before Mr./Mrs/ Miss + surname. Then it means a man/ woman/ girl of that name :
Mr Mehta came to see you when you were away. (This sentence means: “A man called Mr Mehta came “)
(g)Use of ‘a’ before few and little :
(i)a few and a little means a small number or a small amount (‘few’ stands for the number and ‘little’ for amount).
(ii) ‘few’ and ‘little’ without article have an almost negative meaning. I am thirsty but I am afraid there is little water in the pitcher.
But there is little water in the fridge.
The college reopened today but there were few students in the classes. A few senior students came to the college but remained away from the classes.
(h) To attribute the qualities of a man (usually someone famous) to another person. He is Shakespeare. (He is a genius like Shakespeare.)
2. The Definite Article
Uses of the Definite Article :
(a)’The’ is used before a noun which has become definite as it has been mentioned a second time. When it is introduced the first time, it takes `a/an’.
A man is going on the road. The man has a bag. The bag contains clothes. The road goes to Kamal.
(b) It is used before nouns of which there is only one or which are considered as one :
The earth, the sky, the weather, the North Pole
(c) It is also used with a noun of which there is only one example in some given situation.
The Principal is on leave.
Has the postman come yet?
(d) The definite article is placed before the superlative degree of adjectives.
He is the best teacher I have known.
She is the most intelligent girl in the class.
(e) When the nouns like English, Russian, French, and Greek mean `language’ no article is placed before them. But when they stand for People (Nations), they are preceded by the definite article :
The English ruled India for a long time. They introduced English as a medium of education in India.
(f) The nouns like hospital, school, college, church, temple, prison, cinema, bed, table, market, office, etc. denote their primary function if no article is placed before them. The use of ‘the’ before them makes them definite and particular.
He met with an accident and was taken to the hospital.
When I came to know of it, I went to the hospital to meet him.
(g) It is used before singular nouns to represent a class of things.
The donkey is lazy. (All donkeys are lazy.)
(h) Before an adjective used to represent a class of things.
The rich should not exploit the poor.
Today a gap exists between the old and the young.
(i)’The’ is used when we refer to a particular thing or a person.
In that group, the boy in the red shirt is my son.
(j) The definite article is used before first/second, etc. and only.
He was the first man to reach the party. Sunita was the second guest.
In fact, she was the only lady present there.
(k) Before the plural names of countries.
The United States of America, the West Indies.
(l) Before special meals; as
I take dinner at 9.00 p.m. (usual dinner)
but Are you attending the dinner being given by Mohan?
(m) The article is used before the names of the following nouns :
Mountain ranges-The Himalayas, The Alps, The Pyrenees etc.
Rivers-The Ganga, The Brahmaputra, The Thames etc.
The oceans-the Indian Ocean, The Pacific, The Antarctic etc.
Islands-The Andamans, The West Indies etc.
Holy books-The Geeta, The Quran, The Bible etc.
Newspapers-The Indian Express, The Times of India, etc.
Magazines-The Reader’s Digest, The Competition Master, etc.
Historical buildings-The Parliament, The White House, etc.
Historical events-The First Battle of Panipat, The First/Second World War.
Trains, ships, planes-The Shatabadi Express, The Vikrant, The Ashoka, etc.
OMISSION OF ARTICLES
Articles are not used in the following cases :
(a)No article is placed before abstract nouns when they are used in a general sense.
Honesty is the best policy.
Happiness is what everyone longs for.
But abstract nouns take ‘the’ before them when they are used in a particular sense.
We must work for the happiness of all sections of society.
(b) The article is omitted before ‘man’ and ‘woman’ when they are used in a general sense.
Man is mortal.
The woman is considered weaker than man.
(c) The article ‘the’ is omitted before the names of meals when used in a general sense. But we use ‘the’ when a specific meal is mentioned. He invited me to dinner.
We take breakfast at 8 a.m.
The Lunch given by him was fine.
(d)Collective nouns such as humanity, labour, mankind, posterity, society, don’t usually take an article.
Society must take care of its old persons.
Mother Teresa has devoted her life to the welfare of humanity
(e) Articles are not used before proper nouns: Shakespeare was a genius.
Mumbai is a metropolitan city.
(f) No article is placed before the names of metals/materials and games when used in a general sense. But when they are used specifically, ‘the’ is placed before them. Gold is a costly metal.
Many people in India play cricket.
The Gold found in Coal mines is of superior quality.
(g)Articles are not used in certain phrases consisting of a preposition followed by its object :
at home, in hand, in debt, by day/night, on demand, at sunset/night;
on earth, by land/water/air, on foot, etc.
You must finish the work at hand.
He started the journey at daybreak.
Article Grammar Exercise
Article Grammar Exercise No.- 1
Article Grammar Exercise No.- 2
Article Grammar Exercise No.- 3
Article Grammar Exercise No.- 4
Article Grammar Exercise No.- 5
Article Grammar Exercise No.- 6
Article Grammar Exercise No.- 7
Article Grammar Exercise No.- 8
Article Grammar Exercise No.- 9
Article Grammar Exercise No.- 10
Article Grammar Exercise No.- 11