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What is an article?
نویسنده : غلامعلی عباسی - ساعت ۸:٥٤ ‎ق.ظ روز ۱۳٩٦/٤/٩
 

An article is a word that modifies or describes the Noun. It is used before the noun to show whether it refers to something specific or not. So, in a way, articles can also be described as a type of adjectives as they also tell us something about the nouns, like adjectives.

Types of Articles

There are two types of Articles in the English language. They are as follows:

Definite article: Definite means to be clear, exact or obvious about something. It is called definite because it is used in relation to a particular thing or person. “The” is the definite article in English, which is used to refer to particular nouns, the identities of which are known. The definite article indicates that the noun is specific. The speaker talks about a particular thing. For example:

The cat sat on the couch.

The dog attacked me and ran away.

Notice how the reference is not left indefinite in both the sentences. It is clear that a particular cat sat on the couch in the first sentence and a specific dog that attacked the speaker is being spoken about in the second example.

Indefinite articles: Indefinite means something which is not clear, obvious or exact. They are called indefinite because the identity of the thing or person being spoken about is left unclear or indefinite. The indefinite article indicates that the noun is not someone or something in particular. The speaker talks about any one of that type of things. The indefinite articles in English are "a" and "an." For example:

Do you have a pencil?

I want to have an apple.

Notice how the speaker is not asking for a particular pencil or apple, but any pencil or apple in the above sentences.

Difference between “A” and “An”

Indefinite articles ‘a/an’ are used as follows:

‘A’ is used before a word beginning with a consonant sound. Consonant letters in the English alphabet are B,C,D,F,G,H,J,K,L,M,N,P,Q,R,S,T,V,W,X,Y,Z.

For example: A boy, a cat, a dog, a fight, a gym, a horse, a joke, a kite, a lion, a mirror, a noise, a pin, a quilt, etc.

‘An’ is used before a word beginning with a vowel sound. Vowel letters in the English alphabet are A, E, I, O, U.

For example: An apple, an elephant, an idiot, an orange, an umbrella, etc.

Note here that the usage is on the basis of sound and not only the letter the word starts with.

For example:

“An hour”
“An honest man”
“A one eyed dog”

Do these seem wrong to you?

They’re not and the reason is that the ‘usage is on the basis of sound’. The words 'hour' and 'honest' both begin with a vowel sound, as the consonant 'h' is not pronounced. Similarly, the word 'one' begins with the consonant sound of 'w' and hence is written as 'a one eyed dog', not 'an one eyed dog'.

Also, remember that we use "a" and "an" only before a singular noun. We can't use "a" and "an" before a plural noun. For example:

A book - correct

A books - incorrect
An egg - correct
An eggs – incorrect

Tips to remember the differences in a nutshell

Ø a + singular noun beginning with a consonant : a bag;a pen, etc.

Ø an + singular noun beginning with a vowel: an egg; an orphan, etc.

Ø a + singular noun beginning with a consonant sound:auser(sounds like 'yoo-zer,' i.e., gives a 'y' sound, so 'a' is used); a university; a European, etc.

Ø an + nouns starting with silent "h":an hour; an honest man, etc.

NOTE:

These rules also apply in Acronyms.

For example:

He is a DU (Delhi University) student.

He is an IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) graduate.

The rule also applies when acronyms start with consonant letters but have vowel sounds.

For example:

She is an MBA (Master of Business Administration).

When/If the noun is modified by an adjective, the choice between a and an depends on the initial sound of the adjective that immediately follows the article.

For example:

a beautiful umbrella

an unusual situation

a European country (pronounced as 'yer-o-pi-an,' i.e., sounds like consonant 'y')

A/An is used to indicate membership in a group.

For example:

  • I am a journalist. (I am a member of a large group of professionals known as journalists.)
  • She is an Indian. (She is a member of the people from India, known as Indians.)

Difference between “A” and “The”

"The", as mentioned earlier, is used to give information about particular or known nouns. These are usually things that have been mentioned before or that the listener is familiar with. On the other hand, "A" or "an" is used to talk about things which are not particular. Usually, these are things that haven't been mentioned before or that the listener is unfamiliar with.
For example, study these sentences:

I went to see a tattoo artist.

The tattoo artist has given me an appointment next week.

It is clear that in the first sentence, the speaker did not go to see a particular tattoo artist. He/she went to see any tattoo artist and was speaking to a friend about the same. The tattoo artist in this case has either not been mentioned before or is not that important, and therefore their identity is unknown.

Whereas in the second sentence, the speaker refers to the tattoo artist that had already been mentioned before. The identity is already known, therefore, “the” has been used to refer the tattoo artist.

Usage of ‘the’

Let’s study the different cases where ‘the’ can or cannot be used.


 
 
 



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