A, an, the or nothing? Do you know how to use articles properly in English? Let’s figure it out! Notice how the articles are used in the image below:
A little warm up activity – Can you use the clues to figure out when we use A and when we use AN?
WHEN TO USE ‘A’:
A + singular
Any single thing in a category.
It is a tree.
The first time we refer to something.
We are in a field of flowers.
The expression “What a..”
What a beautiful bird!
Linda is a doctor.
WHEN TO USE ‘AN’:
An + singular, non-specific noun that starts with a vowel sound.
It is an apple.
The use of ‘an’ is based on the sound, not the letter! When the letter sounds like it does in the alphabet, we don’t use ‘an’. Look at the following examples:
We say a hotel, but an heir.
It is a U.F.O, but an umbrella.
It is a unicorn, but an Uber.
WHEN TO USE ‘THE’:
The + specific or obvious nouns.
One specific thing in a category.
The cows are happy.
The Sun is yellow.
The 2nd time we refer to something.
The field is big and beautiful.
Countries with “united”, “republic”
The United States is a big country.
WHEN TO USE NOTHING:
Nothing + noun
Everything in a category.
Milk is white.
Dogs are animals.
Singular, non-count nouns.
Water is wet.
Angie goes to work on Mondays.
It is cold in January.
I eat breakfast in the morning.
Soccer is exciting!
Colombia is a beautiful country.
Love is important.
You go to work by taxi.
GIVE IT A TRY!