Articles in English Grammar (Indefinite and Definite) for Competitive Exams


Articles in English Grammar is a very important topic we should know. An article in English is a word or letter which is used before a noun and tells about the certainty of that noun.

In other words, an article is a word, used alongside a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. Article specify the grammatical definiteness of the noun.

Rules of articles in English Grammar

Articles in English Grammar:

There are two types of articles in English grammar.

  • Indefinite Articles (i.e. ‘A’ and ‘An’)
  • Definite Articles (i.e. ‘The’)


Rules of Indefinite Articles in English Grammar:

‘A’ & ‘An’ are called the indefinite articles, as they don’t refer to a particular thing or person.

Use of ‘A’

 (1) If a consonant is the first letter of a countable singular common noun, we use ‘A’ before it.

For example;  a book, a man etc.

[ ‘A’ is used before the consonants, i.e. ‘b’ & ‘m’.]


(2) ‘A’ is used before some indefinite numbers.

For example;  a lot of, a number of, a large number of, a half of, a quarter of


(3)  ‘A’ can be used before some indefinite collective numbers.

For example;  a team of doctors, a gang of ghosts, a folk of birds, a herd of sheep etc.


(4)  If an adjective is followed by a singular noun, we use ‘A’ before that adjective.

For example;  Rahul is a good (adjective) student (noun)


(5)  ‘A’ is used at the place of ‘per’.

For example;

  • Mangoes are sold at 100 rupees per kg. (before)
  • Mangoes are sold at 100 rupees a kg. (after)


(6) To show the whole class of common noun we may use ‘A’ before a common noun.

For example;

  • All birds have two wings. (before)
  • A bird has two wings. (after)


(7) If we use article ‘A’ before a plural number, the forthcoming noun becomes singular.

For example;  a five-day match, a two-mile walk


(8) ‘A’ is used before these words start with a vowel.

For example;  a university, a unique film, a one-rupee note, a one-act play, a union, a European, a one-eyed person, a one-sided decision


(9) If a noun is placed after such, how, rather, quite etc., we use ‘A’ before that noun.

For example;

  • I have never seen such painting in my life. (wrong)
  • I have never seen such a painting in my life. (correct)


(10) If these words (Noise, Lie, Hole, Headache etc.) are used in as singular, we use ‘A’ before them.

For example;

  • The students make noise in the class. (wrong)
  • The students make a noise in the class. (correct)


Use of ‘An’

(1) We can use ‘An’,  before the nouns or words starting with a vowel.

For example;  Riya is an intelligent girl. (‘i’ is a vowel)


(2) ‘An’ is used before some ‘H’ starting words in which ‘H’ is not pronounciate.

For example An honest man, An hour, An heir, An honorable person, etc.


(3) If H, L M, N, F, R, S, X are the first letters of abbreviations, we use ‘An’ before them.

For example An M.L.A,  An H.S. school,  An F.R.C.S. girl etc.


The omission of Indefinite articles:

(1) Indefinite articles cannot be used two times for the same noun in a sentence.

For example;  

  • Vivekananda was a saint and a hero. (wrong)
  • Vivekananda was a saint and hero. (correct)


  •  Vivekananda was both a saint and a hero. (correct)
  •  Sneha is neither a dancer nor a painter. (correct)


(2) Indefinite articles should not be used before the name of meals.

For example;

  • Ram was present at a dinner. (wrong)
  • Ram was present at dinner. (correct)


NOTE:  But if we use an adjective before the name of meals, we use indefinite articles before the adjective.

For example;

  • It was tasteful dinner. (wrong)
  • It was a tasteful dinner. (correct)


(3) We can not use articles after ‘what kind of‘ and ‘what sort of‘.

For example;

  • What kind of a boy he is. (wrong)
  • What kind of boy he is. (correct)


(4) Followings are some uncountable -nouns, we should not use indefinite articles before them.

Example;  Furniture, Stationery, Poetry, Scenery, Damage, Luggage, Baggage, Perfumery, Postage, Traffic, Offspring, Information, Advice, Abuse, Telephone.


Rules of Definite Articles in English Grammar:

The is called the definite article as it points out a particular thing or person.

For example; He visited the lawyer. (means one particular lawyer)

Use of ‘The’

(1) ‘The’ is used before a noun if the noun is used before relative pronoun stressed.

For example;

  • He is a boy who dances well. (wrong)
  • He is the boy who dances well. (correct)


(2) ‘The’ is used after ‘one of‘, ‘each of‘, ‘either of‘, ‘neither of‘, ‘none of’, ‘everyone of‘ etc.

For example;

  • Neither of contestants performs well. (wrong)
  • Neither of the contestants performs well. (correct)


(3) ‘The’ is used before the name of Commissions.

For example;

  • Election Commission is a Constitutional autonomous body. (wrong)
  • The Election Commission is a Constitutional autonomous body. (correct)


(4) If an adjective is followed by a proper noun, use ‘the’ before that adjective.

For example;

  • We respect immortal Swamiji. (wrong)
  • We respect the immortal Swamiji. (correct)


(5)  We use ‘The’ before the names of-

  •  Rivers  (The Ganga, The Yamuna etc.)
  •  Seas  (The Arabian Sea, The Bay of Bengal etc.)
  •  Deserts  (The Sahara etc.)
  •  Canals  (The Agra canal, The Western Yamuna canal etc)
  •  Group of Islands  (The Hawaiian Islands, The Antilles etc.)
  •  Series of Mountains  (The Himalayan mountain etc.)
  •  Religious books  (The Bible etc)
  •  Holy Scriptures  (The Bible)
  •  Community  (The Hindu, The Sikhs etc.)
  •  Planes  ( The Kingfisher Airlines)
  •  Ships  (The Titanic)
  •  Stars  (The Sun, The Polaris etc.)
  •  Newspapers  (The Times of India, The Statesman etc.)
  •  Musical Instruments  (The Guitar, The Piano etc.)


(6) If two proper nouns are compared, we use ‘the’ before the last proper noun.

For example;  Kalidas (1st proper noun) is the Shakespeare (2nd proper noun) of India.


(7) We use ‘The’ before ordinals.

For example;  the former, the last, the second etc.


(8) ‘The’ is used before the names of Historical Buildings & Monuments.

For example;  The Tajmahal, The Charminar, The Lotus Temple etc.


(9) Before the name of Countries & Organisations.

For example;  The United States of America, The World Health Organisation etc.


(10) ** ‘The’ must be used to a superlative degree.

For example;  Sachin Tendulkar is the best batsman in the world. (‘best’ is the superlative form of ‘good’.)

 [ NOTE: If we use two superlative degrees for the same noun we use ‘the’ before the first superlative adjective.

For example;  Rita is the tallest and the best girl in the class. (wrong) → Rita is the tallest and best girl in the class.  (correct)


These are the rules of articles in English Grammar. You should learn these very well to avoid any silly grammatical mistakes while you are speaking or writing something.

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