What are Articles in English Grammar: Definition, Usage, Types (2023)

Articles of English Grammar are commonly misused by a lot of aspirants who make mistakes with them. If you are preparing for competitive exams be it banks and Insurance exams includingIBPS, (PO, CLERK, SO)or other exams like SSC, CDS, RRB, or Defence Examsyou must have a thorough knowledge of the use of Articles in English Grammar. It is a part of many direct and indirect questions in General English Paper. Here is a complete guide on Articles of English Grammar.

Also, check outReading Comprehension.

Table of Contents

  • What are Articles in English Grammar?
  • Why do we use Articles in English Grammar?
  • How to use Articles in English Grammar?
  • Types of Articles in English Grammar
  • Rules for using Articles in English Grammar:
  • Zero Article Rule
  • Testbook Trick for Article in English Grammar
  • Article in English Grammar FAQs

What are Articles in English Grammar?

Articles are a type of Determiners. Determiners are words that determine orpoint outorlead toa noun. They are generally used as a prefix to a noun. Articles are also a form of adjectives as they also qualify a noun. Article is a word used in English grammarto specify the definiteness of a noun. Articles noted issues are commonly noted issues that can crop up the language efficiency. An overlooked error can affect the language usage grammatically.

Example of Articles:

  • The building is five years old. (With the use of ‘The’ before the noun- building, we determine which building is being described.)
  • Anapplea day keeps doctors away. (Here with the use of the articles ‘An’ and ‘a’ we point out to any general apple and a doctor respectively. Thus, the articles lead to the noun.) Note: We can never use a singular countable noun alone without an article.
  • There are 50 students in the class. (Here class is a countable noun and cannot be used without an article.)

For details on thePara Jumbles, refer to the linked article.

Why do we use Articles in English Grammar?

To put it simply, it is pivotal to understand how articles benefit us. Why do we use articles in our English language? So, let’s see:

  • To tell us about the number of nouns. (Whether noun is singular or Plural)
  • It tells us the randomness or particularity of a noun. (Is it the same noun I’m talking about or is it different?)
  • It also refers to the noun being ‘Positive’ or ‘Negative’.


  • Humans are smart. (Positive but random)
  • The human is smart. (Positive but Specific)
  • No human is smart. (Negative but random)

Note:Negative article case doesn’t take any nouns to be specific.

To get details on, candidates can visit the linked article.

How to use Articles in English Grammar?

What are Articles in English Grammar: Definition, Usage, Types (1)

Types of Articles in English Grammar

Based on the definiteness and generality articles are commonly classified in two types:

1. Definite Articles:

We use the definite article ‘The’ when we want to lead the reader or listener to a specific noun. It says that the noun is definite, certain and exact.

Examples of Definite Articles:

  • The red bus left an hour ago. (Here, by using ‘The’ before the red bus we are letting the readers or listeners know that we are referring to one specific bus which left an hour ago.)
  • I sawthegirl yesterday (Here even though girl is a common noun, the use of the word before it states that the sentence is being written or said in reference to one specific girl.)

Do check outVerb here.

Points to Remember while using Articles in English Grammar

  • ‘The’ is used in measuring expressions beginning with ‘by’. Example: Do you sell eggs by the kilos or by the dozens?
  • Articles convey the ‘specificity’ of a noun. How general or specific a noun is, in a sentence.
  • Articles are also implied with acronyms or short forms.
  • The placing of an article depends on the vowel or the consonant sound of the first letter of a word.

Definite Articles with Names

Generally, we do not use definite articles with names or Proper nouns.

Example of Definite Articles with Names:

The J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter. —WRONG

J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter.—CORRECT


However, we do use them in the following cases.

  • Countries with names that include Kingdom, States, or Republic Example: The United States of America. The Republic of India.
  • Countries with names as Plural Nouns Example: The West Indies The Philippines
  • Geographical Features Example: The Mt. Everest The Caspian Sea
  • Newspaper Names Example: The Times of India The Hindu
  • Well-known things, arts, building, hotels Example: The Great Wall of China. The Mona Lisa. The Pan Pacific Hotel
  • Organisations Example: The United Nations Organization The Commonwealth Nations
  • Families: Example: The Oberoi’s The Peterson’s

For details on theCloze Test, refer to the linked article.

2. Indefinite Articles:

Indefinite articles are exact opposites of definite articles. We use the indefinite article ‘A’ or ‘An’ when we refer to a generic noun. It says that the noun is indefinite, uncertain and general. Anis used for a noun starting witha vowel(a, e, i, o, u) orvowel soundwhileAis used forconsonants(rest of the alphabets)

Note: The use of A also denotes the singularity of the noun. We cannot use A for a plural noun.

Example of Indefinite Articles:

  • A red bus left an hour ago. (Here by using ‘A’ before red bus we wish to generalize the noun. There are many red buses, one of which left an hour ago.)
  • I sawagirl yesterday (Here it can be any girl. There is no specific one.)
  • I havean umbrella. (Here umbrella starts with ‘U’, a vowel, hence we use An)
  • The movie will begin inan hour. (Here even though hour starts with ‘H’, it is pronounced as ‘our’ which has a vowel sound. Hence we use An)

Points to Remember

Thevowelsare five letters (A, E, I, O, U) of the alphabet. Alphabet is a name of group of English letters. Theconsonantsare all except the vowels i.e. they are 21 in number of the alphabet. Technique to use Article ‘A/An’

(Video) What are Articles | When to use A, An and The | Type of Adjectives

1. Have + a /an + Noun


  • Have a swim
  • Have a drink
  • Have a bath

2. Take/Make + a /an + Noun


  • Take an exercise
  • Take a rest
  • Take a risk
  • Make a risk
  • Make a mistake

Rules for using Articles in English Grammar:

Based on usage of Articles

Rule 1:

Use ‘the’ before singular and plural nouns, if specifying. Example:

  1. The animal is a pet.
  2. The animals are taken care of.

In both the cases, irrespective of singular and plural, ‘animal’ and ‘animals’ are specific nouns being spoken about.

Rule 2:

Use ‘a/an’ for unspecified nouns. It doesn’t matter in this case. Example:

  1. A country is about citizens. (Any country, not specific)
  2. An apple is healthy to eat. (Any apple, any color, red or green, not specified)

Exception With these words article ‘A/An’ is used whenever noun is given: Such /what /how + a/an +Noun Example:

  1. Such a boy
  2. What an idea
  3. How an opera is made

Rule 3:

‘A’ is used before a consonant sound of the first letter of a word. Example: A boy, A girl, A school. All three words start with the consonant sounds of ‘b’, ‘g’, ‘sk’

Rule 4:

‘An’ is used before a vowel sound of the first letter of a word. Example: An apple, An umbrella. Both the examples start with the vowel sounds of ‘A’. ‘Um’ of umbrella starts with the sound of ‘AM’ not ‘UM’. ‘A’ is a vowel. Hence, ‘an’.

To get details onIdioms and Phrases, candidates can visit the linked article.

Rule 5:

Use ‘A’ as an unspecific article before lot of quantity. Example:

  1. A lot of people are confined due to quarantine.
  2. A couple of citizens were found leaving their country.

Rule 6:

Unspecific articles are used before measurements. Example:

  1. Vehicles were found speeding sixty kilometers an hour.
  2. A thousand rupee note was found.

Rule 7:

A/An used in exclamations before a singular countable noun. Example:

(Video) English Articles - 3 Simple Rules To Fix Common Grammar Mistakes & Errors

  1. What an intelligent lot of aristocrats!
  2. What a pretty beautiful child!

Rule 8:

Definite article ‘the’ is used to represent the same subject introduced before. Example: A man is an artist. The man is a painter.

Rule 9:

‘The’ is used when we speak about rivers, seas, oceans, any legendary objects or any universal objects. Example:

  1. The Pacific Ocean has sharks in it.
  2. The Bay of Bengal is unique in the world.
  3. The Arabian Sea is on the western side of the map of India.
  4. The map of India is diversified like the country itself.
  5. The sun is a star.
  6. The earth rotates and revolves.

Rule 10:

Article before an adjective. In some cases, an article sometimes modifies a noun that is also modified by an adjective. The usual word order is article + adjective + noun.

  1. Sheetal has planed a big surprise for her best friend.
  2. I read an interesting blog yesterday.

For details on theTypes and Rules of Tenses, refer to the linked article.

Rule 11:

Using Articles with Pronouns. Possessive pronouns like his, my, our, its, her, their, etc., can help identify whether you’re talking about specific or nonspecific items. So you don’t need a pronoun.

  1. Why are you reading his the diary? – WRONG
  2. Why are you reading his diary – CORRECT

Zero Article Rule

Articles are not to be placed everywhere. There are certain rules where we place articles. Similarly, there are certain places where we do not use them. The omission of articles is also known as ‘The zero article rule’. If it is important to know that where they are used, it is also important to know where they are not. So, let’s see the rules of ‘Omission of articles’.

Rule 1:

Articles are, generally, not used with specific names i.e. ‘Proper nouns’.


A Ram is a good boy.—WRONG

The Ram is a good boy.—WRONG

An Ram is a good boy.—WRONG

Ram is a good boy.—CORRECT(‘Ram’ is a proper noun)

Check outSubject Verb Agreementhere.


The Mount Mary is a famous and ancient church in Bombay.—WRONG

Mount Mary is a famous and ancient church in Bombay.—CORRECT

Exception Articles can be used with a Proper noun when an adjective defines the proper noun.

Example:“Rohingyas is a name of immigrant community” declared by Amnesty International.

“Theimmigrant Rohingyas as a community is suffering because of no national identity” declared by Amnesty international.

(Video) Lec.no.22:: Types of Articles/ Definition/Usage ( complete grammar course)#english #ssc #bs #ielts .

Rule 2:

Articles arenot to be usedbefore Educational institutions, Places of worship, places of services, and places of treatment, if they serve their primary purpose in the context.

Example: Samgoes to schoolevery day to study. Samgoes to the schoolto attend meetings. School is not the place to attend meetings but to study or teach, hence, no article is placed in the first example.


Rita’s mothergoes to templeto pray.

Rita’s mothergoes to the templeto meet her friends.

Temple is a place of worship not for meeting people, hence, no article is placed in the first example


The old man wasadmitted to hospitalas he was suffering from influenza.

The old man wasappointed in the hospitalas a child psychologist.

Hospital is a place for treatment not for appointing people.

The primary purpose of the people is to treat or to be treated, hence, no article in the first example before ‘hospital’.

To get detailed knowledge and examples onPrefixes and Suffixes, candidates can visit the linked article.

Rule 3:

Articles are omitted before plural unspecific nouns.


Children are innocent. (That means, all children in this world, are innocent)

Parents guide their children. (All parents in this world guide their children)

Rule 4:

Articles are not to be used before designations.

Example:The lady is an Associate professor in Cambridge University. Some particular idioms and phrases that takes an article “A”

  1. In a hurry
  2. In a dilemma
  3. In a rage
  4. In a mood
  5. In a temper
  6. At a loss

Testbook Trick for Article in English Grammar

How to choose an article and its correct placing What are Articles in English Grammar: Definition, Usage, Types (2) Please note that the above flowchart will yield you the correct answer in maximum cases. But there are some special cases that you need to keep in mind. All the special cases have been covered in the Rules given in the previous pages. Those shall be kept in mind in order to get the correct answer.

We hope that this guided study topic on “articles” has proven helpful to you. Check out other courses and study topics on English Grammar rules. Also, you can now practice all your concepts through mock tests on theTestbook App. Download it now!

For details on the, refer to the linked article.

(Video) What is articles | definition of articles in english grammar

Article in English Grammar FAQs

Q.1 What are Articles in English?

Ans.1 A, An, and The are the articles in English grammar. They are used before a noun.

Q.2What are definite articles?

Ans.2 ‘The’ is the definite article. It is used before the noun to show its specific

Q.3What are indefinite articles?

Ans.3 A and An are indefinite articles. A is used before consonants while An is used before vowel and vowel sounds

Q.4Where are Articles used?

Ans.4 In English Grammar, Articles are used before a noun.

Q.5How to identify articles?

Ans.5 A, An, The and used before any type of noun is the article in the sentence.

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(Video) The Definite Article: When to use “the” with abstract nouns in English


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