Definite and indefinite articles

The words a, an, some and the always come before a Noun and are called articles.

Indefinite Articles—a, an, some

an—used before singular count nouns beginning with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) or vowel sound:

  • an apple, an elephant, an issue, an orange

a—used before singular count nouns beginning with consonants (other than a, e, i, o, u):

  • a stamp, a desk, a TV, a cup, a book

some—used before plural count nouns and non-count nouns:

  • some apples, some cash, some cars

Indefinite articles are used:

– before singular nouns that are unspecified:

  • a pencil
  • an orange

– before number collectives and some numbers:

  • a dozen
  • a gallon

– before a singular noun followed by a restrictive modifier:

  • a girl who was wearing a yellow hat

– with nouns to form adverbial phrases of quantity, amount, or degree:

  • I felt a bit depressed.


Definite Article—the

Can be used before singular and plural, count and non-count nouns. Is used to indicate a noun that is definite or has been previously specified in the context:

  • Please close the door.
  • I like the clothes you gave me.

The is used to:

– indicate a noun that is unique:

  • Praise the Lord!
  • The Columbia River is near here.

designate a natural phenomenon:

  • The nights get shorter in the summer.
  • The wind is blowing so hard.

-refer to a time period:

  • I was very naïve in the past.
  • This song was very popular in the 1980s.

-indicate all the members of a family:

  • I invited the Bakers for dinner.
  • This medicine was invented by the Smiths.


Choose the correct article in each sentence.

1)Did you bring                      (a, an, the) umbrella?
2)Are you looking for                      (a, an, the) shampoo?
3)I checked                      (a, an, the) mailbox again.
4)Can I have                      (a, an, the) spoon please?
5)I was born into                      (a, an, the) poor family.
6)She will come back in                      (a, an, the) hour.
7)Have you been to                      (a, an, the) Space Needle Tower in Seattle?
8)I would love to talk to one of                      (a, an, the) managers.
9)What                      (a, an, the) amazing view!
10)The helicopter landed on                      (a, an, the) roof of a building.

11)I have__________ (a, some) news for you.

12) Do you need ___________ (a, some) tomatoes?

13) They can give you _______________ (a, some) food.

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