Use of ‘a’ and ‘an’
‘A’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ are adjectives used with a noun. They are actually called Demonstrative adjectives.
‘A’ and ‘an’ are the indefinite articles. They are used to denote one person, place, animal or thing. They do not point any particular noun.
- I saw a man sitting on a donkey.
- She gave me an exciting news.
A is used
- Before a word beginning with a consonant. Such as- a woman, a hero, a book, a pen.
- Before such vowels which have the sound of ‘yu’. Such as: a union, a university, a useful book, a European, a unit.
- Before the word one which begins with the consonant sound of ‘wa’. Such as: A one rupee note, A one-eyed man, a one-way road.
An is used
- Before words beginning with a vowel (i.e, a, e, i, o, u). Such as: an ass, an enemy, an elephant, an Englishman, an inkpot, an Indian, an ox, an orange, an umbrella, an empty bottle, an ugly man.
- Words beginning with a silent h. Such as: an hour, an honest man, an heir, an honourable man.
Use of ‘the’
'The’ is a definite article.
It is used before some particular person, thing or animal. Such as; The boys of this school are very obedient.
- Before a whole class. Such as: The dog is a faithful animal.
- Before the names of rivers, seas, oceans gulfs mountain ranges and groups of islands. Such as: the Ganges, the Thames, the Godavari, the Bay of Bengal,the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Andaman, the Himalayas, the Alps,
the United Nations,the USA, the USSR.
- Before the names of the newspapers magazines and sacred books. Such as: The Tribute, The Times of India, the Amrita Bazar Patrika, The Statesman, The Times.
- Before common nouns which are the names of things unique of their kind. Such as: The earth moves round the sun
- Before the directions. Such as : The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
- Before the names of races or nations. Such as:The Hindus burn their dead but the Muslims bury their dead.
- But the is not used with the languages. Such as: Hindi is easier than English.
- Before Adjectives when the Superlative Degree and before Ordinal numbers. Such as: This is the best book I have ever read.
- Before an Adjective when the Noun is understood. Such as: The rich (all rich men) are proud.
- Sometimes we use the with proper nouns when we are comparing it with some popular place or a popular person. Such as: Kashmir is the Switzerland of India.
Omission of the Articles
The article is omitted before—
- Proper Nouns; such as:
- Names of towns - Delhi, Madras, Bombay, Agra, Jaipur
- Names of countries - India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China.
- Names of persons - Ashoka, Akbar, Nehru, Chirchill.
- Names of Mountain peaks - Mount Abu, Mount Everest.
- Names of streets - Victoria Street, Mahatma Gandhi Road.
- Names of the week - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
- Names of the months of the year - January, February, March.
- Names of materials; such as - Neither gold nor silver is to be found here. Note: But we say: The cotton of Egypt is superior to that of India. (unique of their kind)
- Abstract nouns used in a general sense; such as: Honesty is the best policy. Wisdom is preferable to riches. Note: But we say: I praise the honesty of this boy.