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Rules For Articles

What are Articles?

Articles are words that defines a noun to be specific or general. They are namely – ‘A’, ‘An’, ‘The’.

Uses:

A – used before consonants
An – used before vowels
The – used for specification of a noun.

Example:

The girl from the coffee shop was blonde.

With the use of ‘the’ in the sentence, we clearly bring out that the girl was a specific girl coming out from a specific coffee shop.

A girl from a coffee shop was blonde.
 
With the use of ‘a’ in the sentence, we extract that the girl could be any girl coming out of any coffee shop in general.

Rules for Articles

The Definite Article

  • The Definite Article from among the three articles is ‘THE’.
  • It specifies the objectivity of a noun.
  • The definite article walks you through the particularity of a noun.
  • For example, your friend might ask, “Are you willing to participate in the competition this year?” The definite article ‘the competition’ tells you that your friend is talking about a particular competition that the two of you know of.
  • The definite article can be used with singular, plural, or uncountable nouns.
  • With definite article it becomes easy to identify a noun in a sentence that might be otherwise vague or not clear in concept.

The Indefinite Article

  • The indefinite article comes in the form of two articles – ‘a’ and ‘an’. ‘A’ is used before any consonant while ‘an’ takes its place before a vowel. 
  • The indefinite articles walks you through the general idea of a noun as a contrast to definite article.
  • For example, you might ask your mom, “Should I wear a jeans to the party?” Your mom will know that you’re talking about wearing a jeans to the party. Not a particular one but jeans of any color or design.
  • “Why don’t you wear an ankle length jeans?” your mom replies back. Here the indefinite article ‘an’ talks about a jeans of ankle length but not specifying which one.

Using Indefinite Article: ‘A’ & ‘An’

Rule 1:

In the singular sequence, a common noun also has an article prior to it. But an article doesn’t necessarily need a traditional plural noun. A plural common noun will have the article ‘the’ if we want to designate the noun.

Example:

  • I ate a banana. (Refers to a random banana)
  • I ate bananas at home. (No article is required)
  • I have eaten the bananas again (Refers to the banana i have eaten earlier)
  • I have eaten the bananas again before leaving the house. (Refers to the particular bananas which I ate earlier at the house.)

 

Rule 2:

You can choose between the two indefinite articles – a & an – by its sound. There are some exceptional cases against the general use of ‘a’ and ‘an’

  • a university, a union, a useful book, etc.
  • a one-dollar book, a one-man army, etc.
  • an MA, a BA, an LLB, a BSC, etc.

 

Rule 3:

A or an – sometimes a sentence can translate a Proper noun into Common noun. Proper nouns are generally not preceded by articles but when it changes to common noun it needs an article.

Example: 

  • She regards herself as a Shakespeare. (Here, Shakespeare isn’t the person but a reference)
  • He thinks his house is a Palace.

 

Rule 4:

We use indefinite articles to represent a number that is generally ‘one’/’each’/’per’.

Example:

  • I am an hour late for the meeting. (One hour late)
  • I have a car. (One car)
  • The plane can travel 5m an hour ( one hour or per hour)

 

Rule 5:

Indefinite articles are often used before any descriptive adjectives.

Example:

  • He is a good boy.
  • What a nice car!
  • She is a brilliant dancer

 

Rule 6:

‘A’ sometimes precede determiners, for example,  a few, a little, a lot of, a most, etc. However, when you write a sentence using many, ‘a’ or ‘an’ is used after it.

Example:

  • I have a few pens lying around on the table.
  • There is a little water in the bottle
  • Many a man tried to rescue the girl, but none could.

Using Definite Article: ‘The’

 

Rule 1:

‘The’ is used to define anything specific or particular hence the name definite article.

Example:

  • The lady is standing. ( a particular lady)
  • I heard the dog barking. (a specific dog who was barking)
  • Where is the book that i had lent you last month. (a specific book)
  • I gave her a dress but she ripped the dress. (‘a dress’ becomes the dress’ in the second clause because the dress was not general anymore. It was the specific one that I lent.)

 

Rule 2:

At some places we can use ‘the’ to specify a particular group or class.

Example:

  • The cows are domestic animal. (Refers to the whole group of cows.)
  • The millenials are an advanced generation
  • The honest are always honored (The+adjectives = plural noun)
  • The genius are always valued

 

Rule 3:

To specify or particularize any non countable nouns, we can use ‘the’

Example:

  • The stars in the sky shine so bright
  • The sand in the desert is too hot.
  • The water in this bottle is cold

 

Rule 4:

‘The’ article is used to address anything that is exclusive or unique (one of a kind).

Example:

  • The earth is round
  • The sun shines bright
  • The poles have a cold temperaure

 

Rule 5:

Generally, using ‘the’ for regional nouns relies on the scale and plurality of the objects referred to by such nouns. Except in some situations,’ The’ is commonly used everywhere.

Let’s take a look at the exceptions first.

‘The’ must not precede:

Names of:

    • Continents: America, Asia, Europe, Australia etc.
    • Countries: India, France, Spain
    • States, cities, towns, or streets.
    • Singular lakes, bays, mountains – Mount Everest, Mount Fuji, etc.
    • Languages: Spanish, Russian, English,  (You can use ‘the’ before languages to portray the people from such places)
    • Sports, discipline/subject: mathematics, english, history, geography.

‘The’ must precede.

After listing the exceptions, let’s now see which geographical divisions can precede with ‘the’. 

Names of:

    • Oceans, gulfs, seas, and rivers: the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Nile, the Murray River,
    • Countries with United states or islands: the United States of America (the USA), the UK, the UAE,
    • Great lakes: the Great Lakes, the African Great Lakes
    • Mountain ranges: the Himalayas, the Alps, the Andes, etc.
    • Groups of Islands: the West Indies, the Andamans, etc