According to Oxford Dictionary, Article is a part of speech that indicates, specifies and limits a noun. It particularizes the grammatical definiteness of the noun. It is always followed by a noun/noun phrase.
Article is categorized into two parts i.e. the Definite Article and Indefinite Article.
A word that introduces a noun and explicitly states it as the particular noun is called the Definite Article.
Article ‘The’ is Definite Article. It shows the particularity of a noun. It is generally used with countable/uncountable nouns, vowels/consonant sounds and singular/plural nouns. The use of ‘the’ makes a noun/noun phrase definite/specific.
‘The’ is used with
- Superlative degree of adjective
- Parallel comparatives
- The nouns which are repeated
- Religious groups and their holy books
- ‘Heavenly bodies i.e. planets, asteroids etc.
- Musical Instruments
- The name of newspaper
- The name of inventions and discoveries
- Ordinal numbers
- Historical buildings or to denote parts of the house
- Mountain ranges, group of islands, deserts, canals etc.
- Name of directions and physical positions
- ‘The + noun + relative clause’
- Daybreaks, period of history/, decades and historical events.
- Hotels, theaters, special meals, museums and libraries
- Names of rivers, seas and oceans
- Nationalities, races, social groups, different job posts and positions, names of political parties etc.
- Organs of human body
- Plural names of countries
- One of/some of/both of/most of + the + nouns
- Noun + definite clause
A word used before a noun to denote that the noun can belong to any class of objects is called Indefinite Article.
‘a’ and ‘an’ are called Indefinite Articles. They are used with both singular countable noun and units of uncountable noun. Specifically, Article ‘an’ is used with a vowel sound (not letter) and Article ‘a’ is used with a consonant sound (not letter). The use of ‘a’ and ‘an’ makes a noun/noun phrase indefinite.
‘A’ is used
- With Consonant sound (a + consonant sound)
- To show frequency with time, distance or weight
- With Expressions or with some phrases dealing with number
- With Units of uncountable noun
- With English vowels which sometimes sound consonant
- After words like: what, quite, many, such etc.
- With Collective expressions
‘An’ is used
- With a vowel sound
- Before abbreviation which begins with consonant letters but have vowel sound
- With singular countable nouns starting with consonant letter but have vowel sound
- With some expression and phrases.
Where Articles should not be Used?
There are many cases where the use of articles are discouraged.
Articles should not be used
- before proper nouns, plural nouns etc.
- before clothing items, religious institutions, etc.
- before mountains, languages, games, etc.
To learn more, see: Where Articles should not be used?