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What are Articles in a Sentence?

Articles tell if something is specific.

articles in grammar

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Take the example of ‘apple.  When talking about ‘apple, are you talking about one apple, any apple, or a specific apple?    If the apple is specific (sometimes called indefinite), then it would be ‘the apple.’  When we need to know who or what we are talking about, i.e., being specific, we use the word ‘the.’  When you are not specific, i.e., undefined, and do not know which apple, then you would say ‘an apple.  An undefined article is called an indefinite article. Indefinite articles are ‘a’ or ‘an.’

articles‘A’ or ‘an’ is only singular and refers to only one item.  ‘The’ can apply to one or many things if you ask for ‘an’ orange you expect one orange.  If you ask for ‘the oranges,’ you would expect more than one orange.

Definite and indefinite articles

“The”

“The” is the definite article – specific. For example, “May I have the apple.”  You know which apple you will receive. Therefore the apple is definite (defined.) There is most probably only one orange.  “The” is singular or plural, which means that you could say “May the apples,” you would receive more than one apple.

“An or A”

“A” or “an” is the indefinite article – non-specific.  For example, “may I have an apple.”  You don’t know which apple you will receive. Therefore the apple is indefinite.  “A” or “An” is only singular; you cannot say, “May I have ‘an apples’.”  Instead, you could say, “May I have some apples.”

The indefinite article changes depending on the vowel sound that comes after it.  If what you are referring to starts with a vowel sound, you would use ‘An,’ for example, “an apple” or “an orange.”  If what you are referring to does not start with a vowel sound, then you would use ‘A,’ for example, “a pineapple,” or “a plum.”

Sometimes vowels at the beginning of a sentence produce a consonant sound

Be careful with the letter ‘U’.  Sometimes ‘U’ will create a consonant sound like the word ‘union,’ in which case you say ‘a union.’  Other times the ‘U’ will produce a vowel sound as in the word ‘Umbrella,’ in which case you would say ‘an umbrella.’ ‘An’ is more natural to pronounce when followed by a vowel sound. ‘A’ is more natural to speak, followed by a consonant.  English is ‘lazy,’ and we tend to use words that are easier to say.

Articles quiz

These books provide both study and reference material for English Grammar

Understanding and Using English Grammar by Betty Azar understandingEnglishGrammar
Grammarly. Correct your grammar as you type. Grammarly logo
English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy English Grammar in Use
The Blue book of Grammar and punctuation – An easy to use guide with clear rules, real-world examples, and reproducible quizzes. thebluebookofgrammar

 

Aaron Skudder

4 Comments

  1. Oh this is a good way too learn English for all other speakers. I think I’ll pass this on to my Mexican relative. I hope I find something like this i french. I would like to find this exact strategy. I love the way its broken down into apples and pears. It explains it all step by step and its examples are exquisite. 

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing with us such an amazing article about What are Articles in a Sentence?

    I want to open a blog, but I do not know how to write articles and what is essential. I have read many articles about it, but this is the best I have read. I will definitely apply these tips in the articles on my blog that I am going to open.

    Thanks again and keep in touch!

  3. I loved the Quiz! xD 

    Definitely it couldn’t get better explained. I used to be a teacher as a foreign language as a practice to getting my modern language degree (I don’t remember a happier time in my life) and being able to explain things graphically and in few words was my key to success. 

    I really like what you’ve done here, Keep it up and thanks for delivering hight quality language-related posts!

  4. Well nobody is perfect. I actually learned something today, or if I may say “learned again”.. I love it the way you are breaking it down even at this basic level, like I didn’t even take note of these types or kinds of articles theorically being definite(‘the’…) or indefinite (‘A’, ‘An’) . 

    Thanks 💙

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