There are two types of articles in English Language; one is the Definite Article (the) and another is the Indefinite Article (a, an). Articles are mostly used with Noun and Adjective, for example; the pen, an apple, a cup, an honest man, a round table etc.

How to use Articles
There are two types of articles in English language as mentioned above.

  • Definite article: the
  • Indefinite article: a, an

Details are as follows.

1. Definite Article: (the)
The Definite Article is always used for some specific noun, or the noun already mentioned previously.
Example: there is the boy in this class who is problematic.
(Boy is not any boy, he belongs to this class therefore Definite Article is used)
Remember whenever the is used before vowel sound it is pronounced as /thi/ otherwise it is /tha/.

Indefinite Article: (a, an)
Indefinite Articles are used with some thing that is not particular. It may be any thing.

Indefinite Articles: Rules
Indefinite Articles (a, an) indicate oneness of noun. It cannot be used with the plurals. For example: a pen, a cow, an elephant. a is used with the consonant sound and an with the vowels.

For example; an interesting thing, a cup of tea (Interesting starts with i therefore an is used whereas cup starts with consonant that’s why a is used) Remember, it is always the sound that is either vowel or consonant, not letters. We say, “He is an MA” because M is not pronounced as it is pronounced in Mother. It starts with a sound, that is why this sound is consonant, not vowel.

Some uses of Indefinite Articles
Indefinite Articles are used in following cases:

1. Before singular and countable noun.
    e.g.  He brought a glass of water.
            He is eating an apple.

(Milk, Sugar, Water etc are uncountable nouns therefore Indefinite Articles are not used in such cases)

2. Before a name of a profession
    e.g. He called for a doctor.
           He is an engineer of great skills.

3. For some conventional usage, for quantity
    e.g. only a few can read. 
           A lot of things.
           A dozen of eggs.
           A couple of years.

4. Before some numbers.
    e.g. a hundred, a thousand, a million

5. before an Adjective. (Remember, the Adjectives are always singular)
    e.g. what a nice cap!
           What an idea!

Rules for using definite Article (the)
Below are some conditions in which the Definite Articles are used.

1. Before some geographical regions and the unique things
     e.g. the moon, the stars, the earth, the sky, the Equator, the North Pole

2. For such nouns which are proper in a sense that they are already mentioned in the sentence.
    e.g. The jar is made of glass, the lid is of copper.(Lid means lid of fore mentioned glass that is why the is used)

3. For some definite or specific nouns used in a phrase.
    e.g. Mirror and the lampThe boy with black trousers.

 4. Before superlatives adjectives, first, second and only.
    e.g. The best ever book, The only thing, the second day

5. Before some phrase containing proper noun

    e.g. The Vatican, The river Ganges, The library of Congress

6. Before the names of some principles, theories or laws etc.

    e.g. the Aristotelian school of thought , the laws of gravitation.