Sunday, August 28, 2016

Definite and Indefinite Articles

The English definite article is the. It is used to identify a particular person or thing. If you are speaking about someone or something you are already familiar with, you use the with the noun. Look at these examples:
  • I already know the man.
  • She met the women who won the lottery.
  • This is the book that I told you about.

The indefinite article is used to describe someone or something that is unfamiliar to you or about which you are speaking in general. There are two forms: a and an. Use a before a word beginning with a consonant. Use an before a word beginning with a vowel. Look at these examples:
  • He sees a stranger on the corner.
  • Did you buy an apple or an orange?
  • Is the woman a good lawyer?
  • She has an idea.

Compare the difference between the definite and indefinite article by using these sentences:
  • I want an apple. (I do not see an apple. But I feel hungry for one.)
  • I want the apple. (I am choosing between the apple and the orange that I see before me.)

The definite article for plural nouns is also the. But there is no indefinite article for plural nouns. The plural articles are used in the same way as the singular articles.

Singular Definite           Singular Indefinite           Plural Definite           Plural Indefinite
the boy                            a boy                                   the boys                       boys
the house                         a house                               the houses                    houses
the idea                            an idea                               the ideas                       ideas

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