Articles: A, An, and The

‘A’ is an article. It is used in front of singular nouns that are countable (count nouns).

  • I wrote a letter yesterday.

‘An’ is used instead of ‘A,’ in front of count nouns that begin with a vowel (a, e, i, o, or u), or vowel sound.

  • I wrote an essay yesterday.

‘A’ and ‘An’ are not used in front of no-count (indefinite) nouns.

  • I saw a water in the sink. (incorrect)
  • I saw water in the sink. (correct)

‘Some’ is often used with non-count (indefinite nouns), and plural count nouns.

  • I saw some water in the sink. (also correct)
  • I saw some books on the table. (plural count noun)

‘The’ is also an article. ‘The’ is used to denote a specific noun.

  • I saw the paper you wrote for your English class.
    The writer of this sentence wants the reader to know that he/she is referring to one specific paper.

‘The’ is also used the second time that the writer mentions a noun.

  • Yesterday I saw a movie. The movie was about killer clowns from outer space.

The may be used with any noun:

  • The book = singular count noun
  • The books = plural count noun
  • The water = non-count noun

 

  • I saw the book you’re looking for.
  • Some books fell off the shelf. I nearly fell over the books lying on the floor.
  • I drank some water. The water was very cold.

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