In this article, you will learn about “How to use articles” like a/an / Exceptions / The
Articles are something that is very important to the English language, but for some reason, many students do not use them when they are speaking and writing, that’s they lose their marks in IELTS exam. In this post, I want to address the importance of articles, as native speakers are very quick to identify that a sentence was said incorrectly because an article was not used.
So first, let’s discuss what an article is?
The English language has three articles, ‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’. Each of these articles is used before a noun.
Use of a/an
These articles are known as the ‘indefinite articles’ because they do not specify which noun you are talking about. For example, ‘a table’ could be any table, or you may want to eat ‘an apple’ without choosing a specific one. The way to know which article to use is if the noun starts with a vowel (the letters ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, ‘o’ or ‘u’) it will use ‘an’. If it starts with any consonant, however, then you will use ‘a’.
Note: Keep in mind always with uncountable nouns we could not use “an“. For instance, “enormous”, “air”, “alcohol” etc.
Same for: “a” you can not use “a” with uncountable nouns:
1- I’d a milk with my dinner – Incorrect- because milk is uncountable noun
2- I’d milk with my dinner or I would have a glass of milk with my dinner – Correct- because milk is uncountable noun
Use of Exceptions
There are some exceptions to the rule of always using ‘a’ before consonants and ‘an’ before vowels. If your noun starts with ‘u’ but makes the sound of ‘you’ then you will use ‘a.’ For example, “I went to a university”. Also, if your noun starts with a silent ‘h’ then you will use ‘an.’ For example, “we have an hour before the movie starts”.
Use of The
This is a ‘definite article’. When you use this article, it means that you are talking about something very specific. For example, if “I bought the table” then I am talking about a very specific table that I bought.
Articles are used before a noun but it is important to know when to use them and when not to use them.
You don’t use an article:
1- Before a proper name such as Queen Elizabeth, Steve Jobs or John Smith.
2- Names of most countries such as Italy, Brazil or Saudi Arabia.
Note: We have to use “The” with some specific countries, for example: The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, The United States Of America, The Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia or we must use “The” with name of countries whic ends with “S” like West Indies, Netherlands, so forth
3- Sports such as basketball, football or soccer
4- Languages such as English, Spanish or Portuguese
5- Academic subjects such as Mathematics, English or Literature.
Always use articles before:
1- Names of rivers, seas, oceans such as the Atlantic Ocean, the Black Sea, and the Missouri River.
2- Deserts, gulfs, forests or peninsulas such as the Amazon, the Sahara Desert and the Gulf of Mexico.
3- Jobs such as an engineer, a doctor, or a lawyer.
4- Use “the” with those things which are existing as a single like “The sun, The moon, The earth, The sky”
5- Always use “the” with nature or environment like “The beach, The mountains, The weather”
6- We always supposed to use “the” with common experience things or objects as “The toilet, The shower, The park”
7- Don’t forget to use “the” with “morning”, “evening”
8- Remember to use with superlative forms like “the best”, “the biggest”, “the most”