How to Use Articles 'a', 'an', and 'the' in English?
- August 16, 2015 at 2:28 am #738
A and An = indefinite articles (not a specific object; not everyone knows what you’re talking about)
- Eric has a dog.
- I’d like an apple.
- She works at a school.
The= definite article (a specific object that both the person speaking AND the listener know)
- The dog that lives next door is nice.
- I’d like the apple that is sitting on the table.
- She works at the school where my children go.
A few basic rules:
- The first time you speak of something, use A or An. The next time you repeat that object, use The.
I saw a mouse in my house. The mouse was trying to run behind my refrigerator.
We saw a movie last night. We invited my friend to the movie, but she couldn’t join us.
- DO NOT use an article with names of countries, states, cities, counties, lakes, sounds, falls, or mountains, EXCEPT when it’s a collection of states (such as the United States) or collection of mountains/lakes (the Cascade Mountains, the Great Lakes)
I live in Bellevue, near Lake Washington. (NO articles)
She lives in Issaquah, near the Cascade Mountains, close to Lake Sammamish.
My son hiked Mt. Rainier last summer. (NO article)
- DO use a definite article with oceans, seas, and rivers.
He lives near the Baltic Sea.
We visited the Snoqualmie River.
- DO NOT use an article when speaking about things in general.
I like Turkish tea.
Jonny likes reading books about whales.
- When talking about schools or colleges, we generally DO NOT use an article (Bellevue College, Seattle University, Clyde Hill Elementary) EXCEPT when the word College, University, or School comes FIRST (The University of Washington, The College of Connecticut, The School of Teaching ESL).
- We generally DO use a definite article for places/building that we generally know, such as the library, the mall, the grocery store, the bank, the post office.
- DO use a definite article when talking about superlatives (the most delicious cake, the longest road)
Find and correct the mistakes in the paragraph below:
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