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a/an (an indefinite article)

When speaking about something for the first time and represents NO particular thing or person, it can also mean one (a man = 1 man)

a hat            a university                a man                  a woman            a dog                a cat               a car               a book


Example of class of things:

A car must be insured = All cars must be insured.

A child needs love = All children need love.


With a noun complement:

It was an earthquake.

He's an actor.

She's a doctor.


In certain expressions of quantity:

a lot of

a dozen of

a couple of


With certain numbers:

a hundred

a thousand

a million


Before half when half follows a whole number:

one and a half of kilos     or

a kilo and a half


In expressions of price, speed, ratio etc.:     (can be used instead of 'per')

65p a kilo

£1.37 a litre

70 miles an hour


'a' can be placed before Mr/Miss/Mrs when the speaker doesn't know the person:

a Miss Jones

a Mr Hyde

a Mrs Smith


We don't use a/an before plural nouns

a dog – dogs

a man – men

a child – children

Or before meals:

We have breakfast at 7 o'clock. BUT I had a good lunch yesterday.



The (definite article)

When object is unique or considered to be unique

the earth            the sky              the sun             the moon


Before a noun which has become definite as a result of being mentioned for the second time:

She bought a car. The car is red convertible.

I'm reading a book. The book is about physics.


Before a noun made definite by the addition of a phrase or clause:

The girl in blue dress.

The man in funny hat.

The dog I found in the streets.


Before a noun which by reason of locality can represent only one thing:

Pass me the wine, please.    (wine on the table)

He's in the garden.    (garden of this house)


Before superlatives and ordinal numbers used as adjectives and only:

The best place......

The first car ........

The only one to.........


The + singular noun can represent a class of animals and things:

The whale is in danger of becoming extinct.

The beer is the best Czech export.


BUT man (as a race) has NO article

Man is on the top of the food chain.


The can be used before a member of a certain group of people:

The independent shopkeeper is under pressure from the retail chains.


The + adjective represents a class of people:

the old = all old people

the rich = rich people


'The' is used before certain proper names of seas, rivers, groups of islands, mountain ranges, deserts, regions, plural names of countries or when include republic, united etc.

The Atlantic ocean          The Thames                The Virgin islands               The Alps                 The Riviera

The Sahara            The Netherlands           The Czech Republic            The UK          The UAE           The USA

BUT no article with:

France             Italy             Spain                England             Wales              China           Poland      etc.

Exceptions:

The Hague

The Yemen

The Sudan

The City (city of London)


'The' is used when name has a form of noun + of + noun:

The Gulf of Mexico

The Cape of Good Hope

The United States of America


With north, south etc. when these are nouns meaning the whole region:

in the north of Spain

in the south of England

on the left/right


With the parts of day:

in the morning

in the afternoon

in the evening

on the night of 27.03

BUT no article with: 'at night'

With the names of newspapers when it is the part of the name:

The Times / The Sunday Times

The Sun

The Economist

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