Articles: All rules to use of Definite and Indefinite articles with easy examples

What are articles?

In English grammar ‘A, An, & the’ are known as articles to define a noun as specific or unspecific.

Types of Articles

There are two kinds of articles.

  1. Indefinite Article (a, an)
  2. Definite   Article (the)

Indefinite Article

A and An are called Indefinite Articles because they are used when we don’t speak of any particular person or thing.

Example:  We saw a deer, a tiger and an elephant in the zoo.

Definite Article

The’ is the Definite   Article.  It is used when we talk about a particular person or thing.

The book which I bought yesterday is worth reading.

Study further examples:

 A boy and a girl were walking along the road. The girl was holding the boy by the hand. We use a/an when we refer to an indefinite person or thing. But when we refer to the same person or thing for the second time and so on, we use the for the person or thing that has already been referred to.

 Uses of the Indefinite Article.


The indefinite article ‘a’ is used before a singular countable noun that beings with a consonant sound and ‘an’ is used before a word that begins with a vowel sound. The person or the thing is not particular.

For example:

A book, a pen, a bicycle, an orange, an umbrella, an apple etc.


an  honest man,  an  hour,  an  heir,  an  evening., but  beautifulevening.Similarly  an M.A but a aster of Arts,  an M.E. School but a Mddle English School.

In the first example the first letter is ‘h’ and is silent (not pronounced). So ‘an’ is used before it.


The words begin with ‘u’ ,  a vowel lettrer. But the letter produces a  y /j/  sound. Hence ‘a”  is used before them.

a European,  a useful thing,  a university,  a  unique thing


(i) She works eight hours a day.

(ii) We visit the cinema once a week.

(iii) My car runs 20 kms. A litre.

(iv) How much are the potatoes ? Theya re Rs. 5 a kg.

Likewise we say once a week, three times a day, forty kms alitre, Rs. 10/-a kilo.

Here a =each or per.


A cow is a domestic animal.

A tiger is a wild animal.

A coconut tree grows very tall.

We use ‘a’  before a singular Countable Noun when it is an example of a class of persons or things.


(i)  A  mr Sahoo came this morning.

(ii)  A Dr Mohapata travelled with me to Bhubaneswar.

We use  ‘a”  before a roper noun to point out an unknown person whose name is mentioned with a title.


a/an =any  eg (i) Give me  an  umbrella. I shall go out.


a/an =a prticualr thing/person (a more definite)

I met a  film star in the market. She was Sasmita.


(i) We had a nice lunch at Mr. sahoo’s residence.

(ii) They had a heavy dinner at the wedding.

We can use the indefinite article ‘a’ before a particular luch, dinner or breakfast but not before usual meals.

e.g. (i) I had my lunch at 1 P.M

ii. They usually have breakfast at 7 am.

Omission of the indefinite Article.


(i) Sugar is sweet.

(ii) Rice is our staple food.

No indefinite article  a/an  is used before Uncountable Nouns.

Uses of the Definite Article.


(i) Sharada lives in  the  little red house.

(ii)  Did Ashish get the  job he had applied for ?

 The definite article ‘the’  is used when we think of a particular/ a definite person or thing


(i)  Will you close the window?

=(the nearest window of the room we are in)

(ii) We went to   the  bank.’

                =(the bank where we have our money and we usually go)

(iii) Father is working in the garden.’

=(the garden we have)

(iv)   Mother has gone to the doctor.

=(the doctor who usually treats her)

The situation explains which person or thing we mean.


1. Arati goes to school.

(No article is used for the institution if it is used for the primary purpose)

But we say; Arati’s father went to the school to memet her headmaster. “The school’ means the school building and the purpose of goin is something other than learning.

Likewise, we can use prison, hospital, university, church, market in a similar way.


(i) The earth goes round the sun.

(ii)  The moon moves round the earth.

(iii) We should  keep  the  environment free from pollution.

We use ‘the’  when  we talk of a thing uniqure of itself.

We say:  the sky, the sea, the ground, the country, the atmosphere  etc.


(i) Asis is  the  largest continent in the world.

(ii) Satish is the  best student of our school.

 The is used before an adjective in the superlative degree.


(i)  The  higher we go the  cooler we feel.

(ii) The  more I view the film  the merrier I feel.

If the states go on changing g constantly, we use ‘the’ before an adjective in the comparative degree.


(i) your shirt is  the  same colour as  mine.

(ii) The two plates are the same.


(i) People listen to the radio.

(ii) We watch television.

We usually say the radio but we don’t use ‘the’ before television. Here ‘television’ means the system of broadcasting pictures. The television means the television set or the apparatus on which the picture is received.


(i)  The  giraffe is the tallest animal.

(ii)  The  lion is a ferocious animal.

Here the singular  Count Nouns with ‘the’  stand for a  class in general sense.


(i)  The piano is my favorite instrument.

(ii)  Can you play a tune on  the  violin.

the’  is usually used before the names of musical instruments.

Note:  Do you play cricket?  The  is not used befoe the name of games.


The  poor deserve due help and sympathy from  the  rich.

= (the poor people and the rich people in general 0

The  old should be respected. (the old people in general)

The  blind can live successfully. (the blind people in general)

 The + Adjective: WE use the + adjective without an a noun to talk about a class of people in general. The + Adjective. When used a Nouns, takes plural verbs.

In the same way we can use the elderly, the homeless, the injured, the sick, the disabled etc.

But we can’t say a  clever,  a  rich.

However, we can say   a   clever man, a rich man,    a poor man etc


(i) the French are noted for luxury.

(ii)   The Chinese invented printing.

Here are the + Nationality adjectives mean the people of a country. Like wise we can say the British, the  irish,  the  Scottish etc;


(i) The Taj hotel is Mumbai.

(ii) The grand Cinema attracts a lot of spectators.

(iii)  The  British Museum is the place where Coleridge composed poems.

Before the names of hotels, cinemas, theaters and famous buildings ‘the’ is usually used.


(i)  The  Indianf ocean touches  the Southern part of our country.

(ii)  The  aarbaian sea is on the  Western Coast of our land.

(iii)  The  Sahar/The Sahara Desert is vast.

(iv)  The Mohanadi is the biggest river in Orissa.

(v)   The  Taldanda Canal flwos through the districts of Cuttack and Jagatsingpur.

(vi)  The  Andamans are in the Bay of Bengal.

(vii)  The Phillipines  are in the Indian Ocean.

(viii)  The Himalays form the Northern part of Indai.

The’ is used before the names of oceans, seas, rivers, canals, deserts, mountain ranges, groups of islands etc, but  ‘the’  is not used before the names of a single mountains or island.

Example:  Everst is the highest peak in the   Himalays.


The  Gita/The  Ramayan/  The Bible/  The  Koran is a sacred book.

 The  Samaj is a daily newspaper.

 The  Arabian Knights contains interesting stories.

 Before the names of the newspapers, famous books ‘the’ is used.


‘The’ is used before the names of countries which anre Union of States or Republics  

the  United Kingdom, but England

 the United States of Americaa,but America

 the Netherlands,  the Andamana and Nicobar Islands.

 When the name of a country consists of an djective + a noun, the definte article is required unless the adjectives is : North, South, East, West, Upper, Lower, Greater or New.

e.g. North Korea, West Germany, Great Britain, New Sealand.

But we say the North Pole, the South Pole.


 (i)    We live on  the second  floor.

(ii)   The first thing we have to do is to take him to a doctor.

 The next topic is to be discussed late.

 The last question is about our peaceful life.

Before ordinal numbers like  first , next, last  etc we can use ‘the’ which makes nouns definte.


(i) We study in  the  morning.

(ii) Children play in  the  afternoon.

  Likewise: in  the evening, on    the  previous day,  the  day before,  the day after etch.

With the xpression of time we can use ‘the’ .  But the following expressions of time don’t takes the definte article . e.g last week, next moth, noon , midday, midnight etc.

(i)  Seema got married last mony.

(ii) Reena is getting married next month.

(iii) We went ot Puri last week.

(iv) A thief entered our yard at midnight


The secretary and manger is in the office.

 The headmaster and drawing officer is on duty.

Here one person is the secretary cum manager. Likewise one person is the headmaster cum drawing officer. Here we use one definite article and the verb is singular. If they are two persons, we can’t omit the definite article before the second noun e.g.

 Here one person is the secretary cum manager. Likewise one person is the headmaster cum drawing officer. Here we use one definite article and the verb is singular. If they are two person, we can’t omit the definite article before the second noun e.g.

(i) The secretary and the manger are in the office. (Here they are two persons)

(ii) The headmaster and the drawing officer are on duty. (They are two persons)


The names of seasons (summer, spring, etc) can  be used with or without the

For example :

In the summer)

Omission of the Definite Article:


There are millions of stars in space.

We use ‘ space’  without ´the’  when we mean space in the universe.

But Dr. Das tried to park the vehicle but  the  space was too small. (the space means the place for parking)


(i) I am afraid of wicked men. (Not the wicked men)

(ii) Life has changed in the last thirty years. (Not the life)

(iii) Crime is a problem in modern times.

When we talk of people and things in general , we don’t use  ‘the’.

 But The wicked men were sent to jail. The life in Greenland is very difficult. The crime committed by them is unpardonable.


I have seen Indira Gandhi International Ari port.

Utkal University is a t Vanivihar in Bhubaneswar.

Nehru Stadium can accommodate three lakh people.

 Ashok Fort is in Allabad.

 Many important buildings, institutions are often used without ‘the’ .  But the university of Utkal/Berhampur/ Sambalpur.


(i) Cows are domestic animals.

(ii) Nurses take care of patients.

Before plural nouns  the  is not usually used if they are used for the whole class.


(i) Meat contains protein.

(ii) Rice is our staple food.

Before uncountable nouns in general ‘the’ is omitted.


We have learnt French.

My sister has learnt Sanskrit.

Before the names of languages we omit ‘the’.  But what is the different between “ I like English”. “ I like the English”.?


Man is mortal.

When man  is used for mankind, article is omitted.


They went by bus/by train/ by air/ by sea.

For means of travel used in general sense.

 But they went in a car of their uncle’s / in their uncle’s car/ on foot/ on bicycle etc.


at home, on top, on loan

With such expressions no ‘the’   is used


(i) Blue is my favorite colour.

(ii) Red is always her choice.

With the names of color no articles is used.


(i) Father is strict but mother is kind to me.

(ii) Uncle helps me in studies.

 Before names of own relatives no article is used.

Exercise Articles


 Use a/an or the with other suitable words if required to fill in the blanks.

 (Nurse, hairdresser, pilot, doctor, novelist, editor, painter, baker, driver, reporter, plumber, waiter)

  Example:  Seem looks after patients.

 Ans: She is a nurse.

  1.  Mr. sahoo bakes cakes. He    ___________
  2. Mr. Das cauts people’s hair. He is ___________
  3.  Harish flies aeroplanes. He is ___________
  4. Mrs. Ray writes novels. She is ___________
  5. Dr. Mohaptra edits a newspaper. He ___________
  6. Gopal drives a car. He is ___________
  7. Ashish paints pictures. He is ___________
  8. Leena writes articles for a newspaper. She is ___________
  9. Banashree treats patients. She is ___________
  10.  Muna woks in a hotel.  He brings food to the people. He is ___________
  11.  Alok repairs water pipes. He is ___________
  12. Tisa nurses patients. She is___________


Fill in the blanks using the necessary article a/an or the.

  1. Bibhuti plays ___________ violin.
  2. ___________ Mahanadi flows into ___________ Bay of Bengal.
  3. ___________ Andamans is a group of Islands.
  4. I met ___________ Dr. Behera in ___________ Park.
  5. The police dragged the stikers by ___________ leg.
  6. ___________ Taldanda canal flws from v Mahanandi at Zobra.
  7. My mother reads ___________ Ramayan every day.
  8.  ___________ Himalayas stand on the northen side of India.
  9. Mihir Sen swam across ___________ Palk Straits.
  10. Father went to ___________ bank for money.
  11. We had ___________ dinner at the party.
  12. I went to ___________ hospital to see my father’s friend
  13. Jack lives in ___________ united States of America.
  14. He met ___________ poor.
  15. Ambeswar’s motor cycle runs 55 kms ___________ litre.
  16. ___________ British are a nation of traders.
  17. ___________ Indian Ocean is one of the five oceans.
  18. ___________ seventh question remains unanswered.
  19. We visit ___________ cinema once a month.
  20. Mother is in ___________ kitchen.
  21. My grandmother  is sick. She has to consult ___________ doctor.
  22. Yogamaya went to ___________ prison t meet a prisoner.
  23.  ___________ Gita is an invaluable scripture.


Correct the errors wherever necessary and rewrite the following sentences.

  1. My younger brother is a student . He goes to the school
  2. The Mount Everest is highest peak in world.
  3. The apples are always good for the men.
  4. United States of America is richest Country in modern ties.
  5. Ramabhadra has applied for post of teacher.
  6. The cricket is popular game.
  7. The children play with dolls.’

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