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Indefinite article AN AN in English

  1. Article a or an?
  2. Indefinite article a \ an in English - the main rule
  3. Terms of use of the article a (an) in English
  4. Indefinite article before adjective and pronoun

In English, two articles are used: the indefinite article a \ an definite   article the   plus you can highlight   zero article   , that is, the absence of the article

In English, two articles are used: the indefinite article a \ an definite article the plus you can highlight zero article , that is, the absence of the article. In this article we will look at the indefinite article a \ an in English.

Article a or an?

The indefinite article has two forms: a and an. The rule of using them is very simple.

  • The article in the form “a” is used before a consonant sound: a boot, a tie, a lock, a house, a car, a job .
  • The article in the form of “an” is used before vowels: an apple, an iron, an iron, an oven, an error .

Even if a word begins with a consonant letter, but begins with a vowel, “an” is used. These cases include:

  • The unpronounceable h at the beginning of the word: an hour [ən ˈaʊə], an honor [ən ˈɒnə].
  • Some abbreviations that are read in individual letters: an FBI agent [ən ɛf biː aɪ ˈeɪʤənt].

Indefinite article a \ an in English - the main rule

If you reduce the rules to the basic general, it will be like this.

Useful sites in English:

The general rule: the indefinite article is used, denoting not a specific, but some kind of object (that is why it is called an indefinite). In Russian, we could instead say “some”, “some”, “some”, “one”.

By the way, the article a \ an is derived from the word one (one) - knowing this, it is not difficult to understand its meaning and usage. Consider examples.

I need a shovel . - I need (some) shovel.

I'd like to buy a ticket . - I would like to buy (one, any) ticket.

Compare, if you replace a \ an with the definite article the, the meaning will change:

I need the shovel . - I need (this, a certain) shovel.

I'd like to buy the ticket . - I would like to buy (one specific) ticket.

Terms of use of the article a (an) in English

Consider more specific rules. So, the article a \ an is used when:

1. Anyone in mind, no matter which representative of a class of objects or persons.

A baby can do that. - Infant (anyone) can do it.

A triangle has three sided. - The triangle has (any) three sides.

The article does not necessarily stand directly in front of noun between them can be adjective denoting sign of a noun.

I need a cheap ball pen . - I need (some) cheap ballpoint pen.

I want to buy a good hockey stick . - I want to buy (some) a good hockey stick.

Please note that if you put the definite article the in similar cases, the meaning will change dramatically, for example:

I want to buy the hockey stick . - I want to buy a (certain) stick.

2. The noun calls who or what the object or person is.

Most often this is a profession if it is about a person, or the name of an object (class of objects), if it is something inanimate. In this case, the article is difficult to “translate” into Russian. It should be understood that the noun designates an object / person as a whole, not as a separate instance, but as a generalizing concept.

I am a doctor . - I am a doctor.

He is an experienced graphic designer . - He is an experienced graphic designer.

This is a snowboard . - This is a snowboard.

If you use the, it will not be about the class of items in general, but about a specific representative:

Hi is the experienced designer . - He is the (same) experienced designer.

3. It is a single subject or person.

That is, literally about the subject in the amount of one piece. Here the article a \ an means almost the same as one.

I'd like a cup of hot chocolate. - I would like (one) a cup of hot chocolate.

I need a day to rest. - I need (one) day to rest.

With the article, it also, in general, will be about one subject, but about a specific one. For example, it’s not just about a cup of chocolate, but about that cup that you cooked first, her skin came out prettier:

I'd like the cup of hot chocolate. - I would like (that) a cup of hot chocolate.

4. It is a subject or person mentioned in a conversation for the first time ...

... and when we speak for the second, third, tenth time, we use the the.

Here, the use of articles is dictated by simple logic. Speaking of a subject for the first time, we usually speak of it as “some”, “some”.

- You know, I watched an interesting movie yesterday. - You know, I watched (some) interesting movie yesterday.

Five minutes have passed, we have already discussed the film far and wide, and we are talking about it no longer as a kind of film, but as a very definite film:

- Yeah, I think, I'm going to rewatch the movie! - Yes, I think I will reconsider this film.

In general, this rule is very easily violated. For example, I decided to intrigue the interlocutor and say at once that I was watching not just some film, but THAT film:

- You know, I watched the movie yesterday. - You know, yesterday I watched the movie itself.

Or in this particular conversation the subject may be mentioned for the first time, but both interlocutors understand perfectly what this is about.

Mary: Honey, where is the mirror ? - Dear, where is the mirror?

John: Your mom's present. - Your mom's gift in the bathroom, as usual.

5. In a number of stable expressions

Basically, they are related to time and quantity:

  • in a day \ week \ month \ year - in a day \ week \ month \ year
  • in an hour - in an hour
  • in a half an hour - in half an hour
  • a few - a few
  • a little
  • a lot (great deal) of - many

The indefinite article a \ an is often used in stable expressions like to have (to take) + noun, implying some one-time action:

  • to have (take) a look - take a look
  • to have a walk - take a walk
  • to have (take) a seat - sit down
  • to take a note - take note, write

Notes:

Interesting articles:

  1. Some expressions for this scheme are used with a zero article, for example: to have fun - have fun .
  2. With a definite article the in most cases the words are used: the future, the past, the present.
  3. The names of the seasons are used with the or with the zero article: in (the) winter, in (the) summer, etc.

Indefinite article before adjective and pronoun

Articles (any) can be used before adjectives. In this case, they serve as determinants not to the adjectives, of course, but to the noun, a sign of which is designated by these adjectives:

  • She is a nice beautiful girl . - She's a sweet beautiful girl.
  • I need the red hat . - I need a red hat.

Articles are not used before a noun if it is already defined by a possessive (my, your, his, her, etc.) or the demonstrative pronoun (this, these, that, those). The point is that if a subject is said to be “whose “that”, it already means that the subject is concrete, definite - this makes the article a \ an impossible, and the article is superfluous.

  • Wrong: I am looking for a (the) my dog.
  • Correct: I am looking for my dog.

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