Ther are two types of articles in English grammar.
- Indefinite Article (a/an)
- Definite Article (the)
Indefinite is any one member of a group. It does not refer to a specific member.
‘a’ and ‘an’ both are used to represent a single object. e.g. “a mouse”, “a cat”, “a bat” and “an apple”, “an elephant”, “an orange” etc.
The question is is that where to use ‘a’ and where to use ‘an’?
The answer is very simple.
Starting sound of next word decides whether we should use ‘a’ or ‘an’. Use ‘A’ if next word starts with a consonant sound and use ‘An’ if it starts with a vowel sound.
For example, we say ‘a mouse’ because the starting sound of ‘mouse’ is consonant. similarly, we say ‘a cat’ because the sound of ‘c’ is consonant. Here are few more examples:
- ‘an orphan’
- ‘a farmer’
- ‘a bicycle’
- Is there a dog in Lahore? (There are many dogs in Lahore = is there one here)
- Lahore is a beautiful city (there are many beautiful cities = Lahore is one of them)
- ‘a user’, though the start alphabet of ‘user’ is ‘u’ which is vowel but the sound of this word is ‘you’ which is consonant, so we use ‘a’ instead of ‘an’
Note that we use ‘an’ if the first alphabet of next word may or may not be a vowel, but the beginning sound of word next to article must be a vowel.
If the starting sound of next word is vowel, then we use ‘a’ and if the starting sound of next word is consonant, then we use ‘an’.
‘The’ is the definite article used to represent a specific member in a group, either singular or plural. For example “The player that scored a century was selected”. In this example, selected player is a specific one who scored a century, so we used ‘The’ behind the ‘player’.
- I am going to take the dog for a walk (the dog = my dog)
- Lahore is the capital of Pakistan (There is only one capital of Pakistan)