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Tips and Self-Assessment Quiz On Articles

Tips on Articles

Tips on answering questions in English grammar related to Articles

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Learning Pundits Content Team

Written on Sep 28, 2017 8:05:33 PM

Grammar Rules with 10 Tips for using Articles


What is an Article?


Article: used before Nouns or Noun phrases to limit or define them.

Types Of Articles:

1. Definite Article: ‘The’ points out a particular person or thing, in the sense of ‘this’ or ‘that’.

Example: Give me the book. (‘That’ specific book)

2. Indefinite Article: ‘A’ and ‘An’ refer to non-specific, singular person or thing, in the sense of ‘one’ or ‘any’.

Example: Give me a book/ an orange. (Any book or orange)

A: used when the next word starts with a consonant, or before words starting in ‘u’ and ‘eu’ when they sound like ‘you’. (A boy, a uniform)

An: when the next word starts with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) or with a mute ‘h’. (An apple, an hour)


Usage of A, An:


1.    To refer to something for the first time: Would you like a cup of coffee?

2.    With names of jobs: Jyoti is a doctor.

3.    With identities (nationalities and religions) in the singular: John is an Englishman.

4.    When referring to a day of the week but not a specific day: I was born on a Thursday.

5.    To refer to an example of something: The mouse had a tiny nose.

6.    With singular nouns after the words 'what' and 'such’: What a lovely day!

7.    Referring to people when there is vagueness: A Mr. Gupta is going to come.

8.    When referring to a singular object or a single unit of measure: I’d like an orange and two lemons, please.

9.    When a singular countable noun represents a class of things, persons or animals: A son should be obedient.


Usage of The:


1.    Something which has already been mentioned: The thief has not been caught yet.

2.    When there is just one of something in a place: Where is the bathroom?

3.    In sentences or clauses that define or identify a particular person or object: The man who wrote this book is famous.

4.    Before the choices in comparative degree: He is the poorer of the two brothers.

5.    Before proper nouns which are unique: We went to the Taj Mahal.

6.    Before dates: He was born on the 10th of May.

7.    Give the meaning of an abstract noun to a common noun: It brought out the beast in him.

8.    As an adverb in a comparative sense: The sooner you come, the better.

9.    Before superlatives and ordinal numbers: This is the highest building in Delhi.


Cases where articles should not be used:


1.    With the names of meals: A Dinner is my favorite meal.

2.    Before uncountable nouns: He gave me the advice.

3.    Before hobbies, professions or sports: A Gardening is her hobby.

4.    Before titles when combined with names: The Prince Charles is a Queen Elizabeth's son.

5.    With years: The 1978 was a wonderful year.

6.    Before collective nouns in the general sense: A Life is a struggle.

7.    Before noun complements: The board appointed him the captain.

8.    Before proper nouns: A Gold is good for investment.

9.    Before common nouns or abstract nouns: An Honesty is the best policy.


Tips on using Articles:


Tip #1: Names of countries

Country Names: Generally, definite article is not used with country names.

  •  The India is a great country.

Use ‘the’ with countries whose names include words like kingdoms, states, and republic:

  •  He lives in the United States of America.

Use ‘the’ with countries which have plural nouns as their names:

  • Manila is the capital of the Philippines


Tip #2: Specific geographic locations

Geographical features: Definite article is used before mountain ranges, groups of islands, rivers, seas, oceans and canals.

  • The Himalayas are the largest mountain range in the world.

No article is necessary before Singular names of countries or territories, cities, towns, states, streets, lakes, bays, mountains, continents, islands, languages, sports, academic subjects.

  •  The highest mountain in the world is the Mount Everest.

(Everest is a single mountain and not a mountain range, so no definite article is used before it)


Tip #3: Proper Nouns

People’s Names: usually no article is used before people’s names or proper nouns.

  •  The Harishchandra is a legendary king.

But ‘a or an’ is used to make a common noun from a proper noun to express some quality associated to it.

  •  He is a Harishchandra when it comes to keep his promises.

(Here ‘Harishchandra’ represents a quality like ‘utmost honesty’)


Tip #4: For a Walk, In a Hurry, A Million

Noun acting as verbs: Indefinite articles are used before nouns but they can be used before verbs when the verbs are acting as nouns.

Words denoting numbers: A’ is also used before words denoting numbers like-a million, a dozen.

Phrases: Indefinite articles are also used in certain phrases like -in a hurry, have a mind, make a noise.

I have told you a dozen times not to go for a walk in a hurry.

(Here, ‘walk’ is a verb acting as a noun, so ‘a’ is used before it, like we say –for a talk, for a swim etc.)


Tip #5: Little, A Little, The Little

Little: means not much (i.e., hardly any) and has a negative meaning.

  • There is little hope of his recovery. (There really isn’t much hope)

A little: means some though not much and has a positive meaning. Used with uncountable nouns.

  •  There is a little hope of his recovery. (There is some hope of recovery)

The little: means not much, but all there is.

  • The little knowledge of carpentry that he possessed stood him in good stead.


Tip #6: Few, a Few, the Few

Few: means hardly anyone and has a negative meaning.

  •  I have few enemies. (I really don’t have any enemies)

A few: means small in number but not many either.

  •  I have a few enemies. (I have a small number of enemies)

The few: means not many, but all there is.

  •  The few days I had spent in Darjeeling were very pleasant.


Tip #7: Singular vs. plural forms for ordinals

Ordinals: These are words that express position or rank in sequential order. E.g. first, second etc.

If there is an article before each ordinal, use the singular noun.

  •  The second and the third chapter is easy.

If there is one article only before both ordinals, use the plural noun.

  •  The second and third chapters are easy.


Tip #8: French, a French, the French

Language and Origin: Definitive and indefinite articles are used with certain words depending on their function.

French is spoken in many countries.

(Here ‘French’ implies a language, so no definite article is used before it)

  •  He is a French national. (‘French’ is a adjective)
  •  The French are a courteous people. (Here ‘French’ represent a community)
  •  The French Revolution changed the course of history. (‘The’ is used before revolutions, events, dynasties, empires etc.)

Tip #9: Repetition of articles

Repetition or non-repetition of articles in a single sentence changes the meaning:

1.   She has a black and white saree. (She has only one saree which is partly black and partly white)

2.   She has a black and a white saree. (She has two sarees, one black and one white)

3.   The Secretary and Treasurer was present there. (One person who is both Secretary and Treasurer)

4.  The Secretary and the Treasurer were present there. (Two separate persons, one Secretary and the  other Treasurer.


Tip #10: The Ritz Hotel, Brown’s Hotel

Use and absence of ‘the’:

1.    We are staying at the Ritz Hotel. (‘The’ is used before names of hotels, pubs, restaurants etc.)

2.    We had breakfast at the Brown’s hotel. (do not use the definite article if the name of the hotel or restaurant is the name of the owner)


Spot the Errors:


Each of the following sentences will contain a mistake in Articles. See if you can spot that mistake.

#1:

They don’t have a heir to inherit the family property. (Incorrect)

They don’t have an heir to inherit the family property. (Correct)

#2:

I studied the Sanskrit in high school for four years. (Incorrect)

I studied Sanskrit in high school for four years. (Correct)

#3:

Please give me a water to drink. (Incorrect)

Please give me (some) water to drink. (Correct)

#4:

Are you driving my the car? (Incorrect)

Are you driving my car? (Correct)

#5:

The hypertension is called the silent killer. (Incorrect)

Hypertension is called the silent killer. (Correct)

#6:

I would like to visit an Eiffel Tower. (Incorrect)

I would like to visit the Eiffel Tower. (Correct)

#7:

They are planning an European holiday for the vacations. (Incorrect)

They are planning a European holiday for the vacations. (Correct)

#8:

Mary is training to be the engineer. (Incorrect)

Mary is training to be an engineer. (Correct)

#9:

The creativity should be encouraged in children. (Incorrect)

Creativity should be encouraged in children. (Correct)

#10:

I was always good at a math. (Incorrect)

I was always good at math. (Correct)

#11:

He is the pupil at Bishop Cotton High school. (Incorrect)

He is a pupil at Bishop Cotton High school. (Correct)

#12:

I read a Times of India every morning. (Incorrect)

I read Times of India every morning. (Correct)

#13:

She is learning a guitar. (Incorrect)

She is learning the guitar. (Correct)

#14:

This is a best book on elementary chemistry. (Incorrect)

This is the best book on elementary chemistry. (Correct)

#15:

Twelve inches make the foot. (Incorrect)

Twelve inches make a foot. (Correct)

#16:

I can't forget kindness with which he treated me. (Incorrect)

I can't forget the kindness with which he treated me. (Correct)

#17:

The uncle is coming to our place next week. (Incorrect)

Uncle is coming to our place next week. (Correct)

#18:

These traditions are in place since Vedic ages. (Incorrect)

These traditions are in place since the Vedic ages. (Correct)

#19:

This man is Shylock when it comes to allotting budget. (Incorrect)

This man is a Shylock when it comes to allotting budget. (Correct)

#20:

The first and the second phases of election is over. (Incorrect)

The first and the second phase of election is over. (Correct)



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