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).
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 in 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.
“A” and “An” are called indefinite articles because they usually don’t identify any particular person or thing.
E.g.: A musician, meaning any musician.
“The” is called the definite article because it refers to some specific thing.
E.g.: The musician (meaning some particular musician).
This chart gives you the basic uses of articles in English
|Usage of Articles|
|Singular Countable Noun||Plural Countable Nouns||Uncountable nouns|
|Indefinite articles (a, an)||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
|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|
|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.
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:
|Before uncountable nouns used in a|
|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|
|They speak Spanish at home.|
|When places are used for their|
|My uncle is still in 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|
|To loose heart.|
|In cases where a preposition is followed by|
|By night, at dinner.|
Repetition of the Article
|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
|2||The secretary and treasurer|
|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|
|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.|