The Adjectives a, an and the are called Articles. An article is used with a noun and gives some information about it.
There are two kinds of Articles:-
♦ Indefinite article- a/an: It used before Singular Countable Noun which does not represent any particular person/ thing.
♦ Definite article – the: It is used before a Singular or Plural Noun (countable or uncountable) representing particular person/ thing.
- One day, I found a bag. The bag contained a Book.
In the first sentence, a bag has been used as it is not specific. In the second sentence, the bag has been used as we are talking about the same bag (specific bag) which was found.
► While using an article we must check that there is a noun, as article is used before a noun, however, if there is an adjective before noun we must use article before adjective, if there is an adverb before the adjective, we should use article before adverb.
We have already discussed that indefinite article is used before Singular Countable Noun which does not represent any particular person/ thing.
Article ‘a’ is used before a word beginning with a consonant sound. Article ‘an’ is used before a word beginning with a vowel sound.
► A, E, I, O, U are 5 Vowels and other alphabets of English are Consonants. However, for correct usage, we must look for vowel sounds not vowels. For example: - We write an Elephant but a European. Both Elephant and European starts with a Vowel (e) but their sounds are different, therefore we have used an Elephant but a European.
♦ For determining the correct sound, it is recommended to learn Swar (स्वर) of Hindi Language [For Indian Students], if, on pronunciation, you find Noun starts with Swar (स्वर), it will take article 'an' before it.
Article a/an is used in sense of one or any and in an expression of rate units like speed, price etc.
- This car can run Hundred Kilometer an hour. (correct) [usage of an in sense of per unit of time]
Article a/an is used in some phares like:- in a fix, make a foot, tell a lie, take a bath, a matter of chance, at a stone’s throw, at a loss etc.
- My house is just at a stone’s throw from the mall. (correct)
Note:- Questions based on phrases are rarely framed in competitive exams but it is recommended to practice phrases with the articles for good preparation.
While using indefinite Articles (a/an) we should be careful that article a/an is not used before any plural or uncountable Noun. like
- A boys are studying. (incorrect) [boys is plural noun]
- Boys are studying. (correct)
- I heard a news on the radio. (incorrect) [news is uncountable noun]
- I heard news on the radio. (correct)
Article a/an is not used before the Nouns after ‘Kind of’, sort of, type of, variety of etc.
- What kind of a movie is this? (incorrect)
- What kind of movie is this? (correct)