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English Grammar for Competitive Examinations ----- Articles - Definite Articles & Indefinite Articles


The demonstrative adjectives A or An and the are usually called articles.
A or An is called the Indefinite articles because it leaves indefinite the person or thing spoken of.
Ex: Give me a book, any book
This is called the definite article, because it points out some particular person or thing.
Ex: He gave me the book, meaning some particular book.
Uses of ‘a’ and ‘an’
1)   A word beginning with a consonant sound.
Ex: a cat, a dog.
2)   A word beginning with ‘u’ or ‘eu’ giving the consonant sound.
Ex: a union, a university, a useful thing etc.
3)   A word beginning with a vowel (like O) which has wa sand.
Ex: a one rupee note, o one-eyed beggar, a one-way road.

We use an before.
1)   A word beginning with a vowel which does not have a y or a wa sound.
Ex: an orange, an Indian, an idiot etc.
2)   Before a silent h
Ex: an hour, an honour.
3)   Before an abbreviation, the first letter of which is ‘M’.
Ex: an M.A, an M.Sc., an M.Phil, an M.P.

Use of the Indefinite articles

1)   In its original meaning of one.
Ex: It costs a hundred rupees.
2)   In the sense of a certain.
Ex: I saw a film star yesterday.
3)   Before a common noun in the singular to denote a class.
Ex: A dog is a true companion (all dogs)
4)   In the sense of the same.
Ex: Birds of a feather flock together
5)   Before the word ‘most’ when it is used in the sense of very or much or exceedingly.
Ex: Lalitha is a most talented student.
6)   When two subjects or articles are thought of as a single unit.
Ex: I am ready with a cup and saucer.
7)   ‘A’ can be used before Mr./Miss /Mrs. +Name.
Ex: A Mr. Tagore, A Mrs. Tagore etc.
8)   With a proper noun used as a common noun.
Ex: He thinks he is a Gandhi.
9)   Before the names of a profession, a trade, a class, an occupation, and a religion.
Ex: A teacher, a farmer, a Hindu, a Christian.
10)        Before the numbers, dozen, score, gross, hundred, thousand, million.
Ex: Ramya bought a dozen mangoes.
11)        With plurals used as singulars an amends, an innings, a means, a gallows, a barracks, a shambles.
12)        In expressions of price, speed, ratio etc where it means every.
Ex: Ten miles an hour, Ten times a day.
13)        Before certain uncountable nouns proceeded by nouns + of
Ex: A drop of water, a piece of cake, a bit of news.
14)        In Exclamations before singular countable nouns.
Ex: what a hot day, what a pity.
15)        In Certain phrases before singular nouns.
Ex: Lasya dislikes such a statement.
16)        In certain expressions of quantity.
Ex: A good many, a great deal of, a few, a little, a lot of, a couple, a great many etc.
17)        In Certain phrases.
Ex: A pain, on an average, make a noise, make a mistake, a fever, make an effort et.

A or An is not used
1)   Before names of meals.
Ex: Phani gave me a good dinner at 7 P M.
2)   Before uncountable nouns.
3)   Before plural nouns.

Use of definite Article.
1)   To point out a thing known or already referred to
Ex: I saw a girl. The girl is very lean.
2)   Before nouns of which there is only one (unique).
Ex: The sun, the moon, the ocean, the sky.
3)   Before ordinal numbers in titles.
Ex: Charles the sixth.
4)   Before Common nouns followed by a proper noun.
Ex: The river Krishna is in spate
5)   Before a proper noun when it is used as a common noun.
Ex: Kalidasa is the Shakespeare of India.
6)   Before a proper noun only when it is qualified by an adjective.
Ex: The great Rudrama, the immortal shakespeare
7)   Before a singular noun which stands for a whole class.
Ex: The cow is a faithful animal.
8)   Before superlative use as nouns.
Ex: He is the most intelligent.
9)   Before adjectives used as nouns to denote a whole class.
Ex: the rich should help the poor.
10)        Before The names of certain well-known books.
Ex: the Bible, the Koran, the Ramayana.
11)        Before the names of musical instruments.
Ex: She plays the Veena.
12)        Before plural proper nouns.
Ex: the Tagores, the smiths.
13)        Before names of ships, trains, aero planes, rockets.
Ex: The Titanic, The kalinga etc.
14)         Before the names of shops, hotels, inns, restaurants, theatres, clubs.
Ex: The Haweli, the rotary club, The Anand Threatre.
15)        Before the names of gulfs, rivers, seas, oceans, chains of mountains, groups of government is mentioned.
Ex: The Ganges, The Pacific, The Himalayas, The Punjab, The Andamans, The West India.
16)        When the initials are used.
Ex: The W.H.O, the I.A.S, The U.S.A., The U.S.S.R., The U.N. etc.
17)        Adverbially in such sentences as the fewer, the better, the more, the merrier.
18)        Before a noun to give the force of a superlative.
Ex: This is the woman for the job.
19)        Before a common noun made definite by the addition of a phrase or clauses.
Ex: The man who won the race.
20)        It should be used with a comparative adjective of the phrase ‘of the two’ is used.
Ex: Phani is the better of the two brothers.
21)        Before certain adjectives to give a plural meaning.
Ex: deaf, blind, good, bad, healthy, rich, poor, the healthy, healthy people.
22)        Before certain adjectives indicating nationality.
Ex: The Japanese, The Italian, The American
23)        Before the names of historical or public buildings.
Ex: The charminar, The Tajmahal, The red fort.
24)        Before north, south etc when these are used as nouns.
Ex: The Middle America, The South of India.
25)        Before the names of newspapers, magazines, before the dates of months.
Ex: The Vartha, The Surya, The 12th March.
26)        Before the names of Political Parties.
Ex: The TRS, The TDP, The BJP
27)        Before a noun when special emphasis is needed.

Ex: She is the girl I am talking about.