Prepare with the #1 ranked IELTS platform. Buy our:
Band 7+ Video Course Recent Actual Tests Questions E-books
Grammar For IELTS material : A, An, The (Part 1)
Grammar for IELTS Material : A, An, The (Part 1)

Grammar for IELTS Material : A, An, The (Part 1)

Grammar for IELTS: A, An, The (Part 1)

There are two kinds of articles in English :

  • indefinite (a, an)
  • definite (the).

They occur before

  • nouns (the book)
  • adjective + noun combinations (a big book).

Having good grammar is essential to get a high band score for IELTS Examination, especially in the speaking and writing sections. Correct and proper grammar is one of the factors on which you will be assessed on during your IELTS speaking and writing tests.

Check Your Grammar

Choose the right article:

I’d been living in the / a / None dormitory for two years and hadn’t had to buy my own food for the / a / None whole time. Then, I moved into the / a / None apartment where I needed to buy the / a / None food for myself. I went to the / a / None grocery store and put everything into the / a / None cart. When I went to pay, I found that the / a / None juice I had chosen cost $1.50, the / a / None meat $7.80, the / a / None bread $1.25, and the / a / None butter $2.00.

If you can’t do the exercise, please go through our lesson about articles.

Article Basics

“A” and “An” are called indefinite articles because they usually don’t identify any particular person or thing.

Example:

  • A musician, meaning any musician.

“The” is called the definite article because it refers to some specific thing.

Example:

  • The musician (meaning some particular musician).

This chart gives you the basic uses of articles in English

Usage of Articles
Indefinite articles (a, an) Singular Countable Noun Plural Countable Nouns Uncountable nouns
A book Books Milk
Indefinite articles (a, an) An elephant Elephants Water
Definite article (the) The book The books The milk

How to Differentiate the Usage ‘A’ and ‘An’ by Sound?

Indefinite Articles (‘a’ and ‘an’)
Vowel sound An enemy, An umbrella
Vowel sound where

consonant sound ‘h’ is silent

An Heir
Consonant sound A reindeer
Consonant sound (Yu) A University
Consonant sound (w) A one-rupee coin

When to Use ‘The’?

Definite Article (‘The’)
Reference to a specific object
  • The book you want is out of print.
Singular noun representing a whole class
  • The cow is a useful animal.
Before proper nouns
  • The Pacific
Before names of things unique of their kind
  • The sky
Before proper noun when it is qualified by

an adjective

  • The immortal Shakespeare
Before superlatives
  • The richest man
Before an ordinal
  • He was the first one to reach…

Three Rules for Avoiding Common Article Mistakes

The following three rules are grouped here because they are the main rules that will help you avoid the most common mistakes with articles.

Rule 1.

Use a, an (or another word such as my or this) with singular countable nouns.

  • Incorrect: Most university students own computer.
  • Correct: Most university students own a computer.

Rule 2.

Use the with specific noun references, either singular or plural. Specific noun references are definite.

  • Incorrect: Title of this course sounds interesting.
  • Correct: The title of this course sounds interesting.
  • Incorrect: Questions in yesterday’s grammar test were difficult.
  • Correct: The questions in yesterday’s grammar test were difficult.

Rule 3.

Do not use the with general noun references, either singular or plural. General noun references are indefinite.

  • Incorrect: Our government should spend more money on the education.
  • Correct: Our government should spend more money on education.
  • Incorrect: The successful presentations require planning and practice.
  • Correct: Successful presentations require planning and practice.

Indefinite Articles

The indefinite articles are ‘a’ and ‘an’. Use ‘a’ and ‘an’ with singular countable nouns.

Example of a singular countable noun:

  • a book, an orange.

Here are the main rules for indefinite articles.

Use ‘a’ and ‘an’ to introduce a singular countable noun.

  • Let’s take a speech class this semester.
  • There is an excellent show on TV tonight.

Use ‘a’ and ‘an’ to define or classify something.

  • Jambalaya is a rice dish that is native to south Louisiana.
  • My brother is an investigator for the city health department.

Use ‘a’ and ‘an’ to show that you are talking about one (of the item).

  • Excuse me. Do you have a pencil that I could borrow?
  • I need an eraser, as well.

Do not use ‘one’ interchangeably to mean ‘a’.

  • “Do you have one pencil?” emphasises the number, not the pencil.

Special time expressions: One is used before the day, week, month, and so forth, to refer to a particular time when something occurred, as in “One day I visited the new museum in town.”

Use ‘a’ and ‘an’ for a general truth about a singular countable noun in a group.

  • A piano has 96 keys.
  • A teacher should plan lessons.

The Omission of the Article

There are some instances where no articles should be used. They are:

Cases Examples
Before uncountable nouns used in a generic sense
  • Gold is a precious metal.
Before plural countable nouns used in a generic sense.
  • Children are mischievous.
Before most proper nouns.
  • Europe, Pakistan, Mount Everest
Before languages
  • They speak Spanish at home.
When places are used for their primary purpose.
  • My uncle is still in the hospital.
Before names of relations
  • Aunt wants to see you.
Before position that is normally held at one time by one person.
  • He was elected chairman of the board.
In cases of transitive verbs followed by its object.
  • To lose heart.
In cases where a preposition is followed by its object.
  • By night, at dinner.

Repetition of the Article

Serial No Usage Interpretation
1
  • I have a brown and white dog.
  • I have a dog which is brown and white in colour.
  • I have a brown and a white dog.
  • I have two dogs. One is brown in colour and another is white in colour.
2
  • The secretary and treasurer is absent.
  • The secretary and treasurer are the same person.
  • The secretary and the treasurer is absent.
  • There are two persons. One of them is a treasurer and another is a secretary.
3
  • He is a better mechanic than a clerk.
  • The two nouns mechanic and clerk refers to the same person.

So, the article is used before the first noun.

  • He is a better mechanic than a clerk (would make).
  • There are two different persons.

See also:

Written By

Syed Monif is a professional content marketer and IELTS Trainer by day, and a bookworm by night, and sometimes during the day too! He currently works on creating extremely user-friendly and engaging content for the online portal IELTSmaterial.com. His work involves creating and editing content while making sure they're super interesting and easy to read! And also as a master procrastinator, right now he's probably googling something so arbitrary like 'How rich is Scrooge McDuck?' without realizing that his lunch break is almost over.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

$69 $185

IELTS (Academic) 5 in 1 Actual Tests Ebook Combo (Jan-Apr 2021) [Listening + Speaking + Reading + Writing Task 1+ Task 2]

4.5 stars rating

4.5

$69 $185

Buy Now

Featured Posts

All Useful IELTS Writing Lessons & Websites
All Useful IELTS Writing Lessons & Websites

This post covers all IELTS Writing lessons on IELTS Material website, including: IELTS Writing......

IELTS Writing Recent Actual Tests in 2018 & Band 8.0+ Sample Answers (Updating)
IELTS Writing Recent Actual Tests in 2018 & Band 8.0+ Sample Answers (Updating)

Read IELTS Writing Actual Tests & Band 8.0+ Samples around the world to be......

IELTS Speaking Lessons
IELTS Speaking Lessons

This post contains useful links to the best IELTS speaking lessons/tips/books/practice tests/actual tests/sample answer...

100 IELTS Speaking Topics Part 1 Questions and Answers 2019
100 IELTS Speaking Topics Part 1 Questions and Answers 2019

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Topics Questions and Answers (Jan -May 2020) Check out the......

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Topics 2020 (Jan - May 2020) & Sample Answers
IELTS Speaking Part 1 Questions with Answers 2020 (Jan – May 2020)

In part 1 of the speaking test, the examiner will introduce himself or herself......

High Scoring IELTS Speaking Model Answers with Audio (Based on Past Papers)
High Scoring IELTS Speaking Model Answers with Audio (Based on Past Papers)

What could be better than preparing yourself for your exam by reading model answers......

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics in 2019 & Sample Answers
IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics in 2019 & Sample Answers

To be well-prepared for IELTS exam (both IELTS Academic & IELTS General Training Module),......

IELTS Magazine - Week 1 (PDF)
IELTS Magazine – Week 1 (PDF)

IELTS Magazine is our brand new project on our official IELTS blog (ieltsmaterial.com), which......

50 Recent IELTS Speaking Topics 2020 Part 2 & 3 with Model Answers
50 Recent IELTS Speaking Topics 2020 Part 2 & 3 with Model Answers

For Band 9 Sample Answers for all Part 1,2,3 topics in 2020, you can......

Useful IELTS Reading Articles, Website Resources & Material for Academic & General Training
Useful IELTS Reading Articles, Website Resources & Material for Academic & General Training

IELTS Reading Resources Besides doing exercises from reading practice tests from Cambridge IELTS Series,......

IELTS Speaking Recent Actual Tests (January - April 2021) & Suggested Answers
IELTS Speaking Recent Actual Tests (January – April 2021) & Suggested Answers

IELTS Speaking Test Part 1 Question and Answers In the following page, you will......

42 Topics for IELTS Speaking Part 1 and Suggested Answers (PDF)
42 Topics for IELTS Speaking Part 1 and Suggested Answers (free PDF download)

In the IELTS Speaking Part 1 Section, IELTS examiner will introduce him or herself......

150 IELTS Speaking Topics 2020 Part 2 & 3 with Model Answers
150 IELTS Speaking Topics 2020 Part 2 & 3 with Model Answers

Check out the latest IELTS Speaking Part 2 topics 2020 with model answers by......

IELTS General Training Writing Task 2 Sample Questions (2013 - 2020) & Model Answers free PDF download
IELTS General Training Writing Task 2 Sample Questions (2013 – 2020) & Model Answers free PDF download

Though IELTS writing is considered to be difficult for some students, it's helpful to......

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS Series (1 - 14) Academic and General Training Student's Book with Answers and Audios
Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS Series (1 – 14) Academic and General Training Student’s Book with Answers and Audios

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS Series (1 - 14), written by experienced IELTS examiners......

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS Series (1 - 14) Student's Book with Answers with Audio [Latest Update]
Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS Series (1 – 14) Student’s Book with Answers with Audio [Latest Update]

Cambridge IELTS 1 - 13 Academic & General Training Student's Book with Answers with......

101 IELTS Academic Reading Past Test Papers with Answers PDF Download
101 IELTS Academic Reading Past Test Papers with Answers PDF Download

"101 IELTS Reading Past Papers With Answers" is a must-have IELTS preparation book for......

Ace the IELTS : IELTS General Module - How to Maximize your Score (3rd edition)
Ace the IELTS : IELTS General Module – How to Maximize your Score (3rd edition)

This excellent self-study book for intense IELTS preparation in a few weeks is designed......

Advanced Vocabulary word List for IELTS
Advanced Vocabulary word List for IELTS

Advanced Vocabulary List for IELTS learners to Score Band 7.5 or Higher IELTS vocabulary......

Post Your IELTS Exam Questions
Post Your IELTS Exam Questions

Hi guys, When you were preparing for your IELTS, did you hope someone would......

Looking for free study abroad counselling?