What Are Articles? (with Examples)

Our most common search themes:

What Are Articles? (with Examples)

There are two types of articles: The articles are classified as adjectives.

The is called the definite article because it is used to indicate something specific.

A and An are called the indefinite articles because they are used to indicate something unspecific.

Examples of the Definite and Indefinite Articles

Here are some examples of the articles in use:
  • I fell over the chair again.
  • (The chair is specific. It is known to the audience.)
  • Can you pass me a chair?
  • (This means an unspecific chair, i.e., any chair.)
  • I loved the apple pie after the meal.
  • (In this example, the audience knows which apple pie is being praised, e.g., the one at last night's dinner.)
  • I love an apple pie after dinner.
  • (The audience understands that the speaker likes to eat an apple pie after dinner (any apple pie will do).)

  • I'm not a troublemaker. I'm the troublemaker!
  • (This means "I'm not any old troublemaker. I'm the one you all know about.")

When Do You Use An and A?

The main question regarding articles is when to use an instead of a.

An is used instead of a to make speaking easier. An is used when the first sound of the next word is a vowel sound. Note: Consonants can create a vowel sound, and vowels can create a consonant sound. The use of an is determined by the sound not the letter. Look at these examples:
  • A house
  • An hour
  • (House and hour start with the same three letters; however, house attracts a, and hour attracts an. This is because house starts with a consonant sound, but hour starts with a vowel sound.)
  • A uniform row
  • An unidentified man
  • (Uniform and unidentified start with the same three letters; however, uniform attracts a, and unidentified attracts an. This is because uniform starts with a consonant sound (yoo), but unidentified starts with a vowel sound.)

Use an (as opposed to a) when the next word starts with a vowel sound. For example:
  • It was an unicorn.
  • (Unicorn starts with a vowel but not a vowel sound. It starts with a yoo sound, which is a consonant sound. That's why it attracts a and not an.)
  • It was a unicorn.
Read more about when to use a and an.

Take a longer test on articles.
Do a longer test on an or a.

More Free Help...

All the lessons and tests on Grammar Monster are free. Here's some more free help:

Follow Us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Facebook
by Craig Shrives Follow us on Google+
mail tip Sign up for our daily tip emails
Chat about grammar Ask a grammar question
Search Search this site

Buy Some Help...

Too busy to read everything on Grammar Monster? Here are the paid services we recommend to learn grammar and to keep your writing error free:

Paste your text into Grammarly's online interface for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Press F2 while using Word, PowerPoint, etc., for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Send your text to a trained editor and grammar geek for checking. (Free trial available)

Learn English (or another language) with a state-of-the-art program. (Free trial available)

Buy Our Book...

Buy "Grammar Rules: Writing with Military Precision" by Craig Shrives (founder of Grammar Monster).

More info...