Advanced English Grammar



English Articles


English articles often receive little attention from learners of the language and yet this is where many students could make some real improvements in their use of English.

Many of the problems encountered by students learning English can be overcome with just some good old fashioned review and a couple of practicle exercises.

Generally, articles in the English language are known as definite and indefinite.

There are also words that function as partitive articles. The words, 'any' and 'some,' can indicate an indefinite quantity of a mass noun.

With the above in mind you should take a minute or two to look over what follows. This page gives you some basics to remember while the other pages give you a more in depth look at the definite and indefinite articles

English Articles: definite 'the'

'The' is used before singular and plural nouns. The nouns are specifically related to a member of a group.

Ex: The dog is on the kitchen floor.

Ex: The dogs are in the back yard.

English Articles: indefinite 'a'/'an'

Indefinite articles are used before singular nouns. The specifically relate to any member of a group.

Ex: A dog is a domestic animal.

 English Articles: partitive 'any' / 'some'

Ex: "Would you like some coffee?"

Ex: "Do you want any milk or sugar in your coffee?"

Difficulties and Exceptions when

using English articles...

Use 'an' instead of 'a' when it comes before a vowel sound NOT just before a word that begins with a vowel.

Ex: We say; "It's an honor to meet you," NOT "It's a honor to meet you."

Ex: We say; "My dad belongs to a union."

Is the 'H' sounded or silent? -- plus -- where's the accent?

The 'h' can cause some problems if you don't know the following. Words begining with 'h' can be preeceded by 'an' or 'a' depending on where the accent in the word is...

Ex: I have a history lesson at 10:00am. (first syllable in history accented)
      It was an historic occasion. (second syllable in historic accented)

or... depending on whether the 'h' is silent or sounded.

Ex: An honor to meet you. (silent)
      Is that a hypothetical question? (sounded)

Acronyms and abbreviations can cause problems when you don't know the above.

Ex: A CNC lathe. (pronounced see en see)
      An MRI. (pronounced em ar eye)

For more information concerning English articles click on the preceding link.