Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

What Is the Indefinite Article? (with Examples)

What Is the Indefinite Article? (with Examples)

The indefinite article is the word a (or an when it helps pronunciation). It is used before a noun to describe it as something non-specific.

There are two types of articles: Articles are adjectives.

A (or an) is known as the indefinite article because it indicates something non-specific.

In contrast to the indefinite article is the definite article (the), which sits before a noun to specify it as something previously considered (i.e., something specific).

Examples of the Indefinite Article

These sentences compare the use of indefinite and definite articles:
  • Pass me a hammer.
  • (The hammer is non-specific; i.e., any hammer will do.)
  • Pass me the hammer.
  • (The hammer is specific. It's the hammer known to the speaker and the listener; e.g., the one they've just been using.)
  • I need a chair.
  • (any chair)
  • I need the chair.
  • (a specific chair)
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