Articles

Articles are one of the key components to form sentences in any language. Almost all sentences in English have articles and everyone uses them on a daily basis. But what exactly is an article?

On this page, you have a complete overview of what articles are, which articles there are and also some examples.

Articles in English

Before focusing on specific aspects of articles, it’s important to know what an article is exactly. An article is a word that belongs to a noun and tells us if the noun refers to something specific or not. This means that an article shows us if the noun is about something specific or about something in general. Take a look at the example below:

After a long trip, a nice meal tastes really good.
After the long trip, the meal tasted really good.

In the first sentence, it’s about any long trip and about any meal in general. It’s not about specific things.

Articles English Taalhulp Engels

The second sentence is about a specific trip and a specific meal. Maybe you went on a holiday and felt hungry after a long trip. After that specific trip, you had a particular meal. This is what they are talking about in the second sentence.

Indefinite and definite articles

In English, there are indefinite articles and definite articles. ‘A’ and ‘an’ are indefinite articles, ‘the’ is a definite article.

Indefinite articles – a or an

‘A’ and ‘an’ are indefinite articles. This means that you cannot know what or who someone is talking about just by looking at the context. These articles are used to talk about general things in the singular form. If you have general nouns in the plural form, you do not use an article.

‘A’ and ‘an’ are both indefinite articles so it’s important you know when to use which form. You use ‘a’ when the next word after the article starts with a consonant or with a vowel that is pronounced as a consonant.

‘An’ is used when the first word after the article starts with a vowel or a consonant that is silent (not pronounced).

a book
a uniform
a dog
an autobiography
an honest man
an honourable mention
flowers
cars

These examples are all about general things. It’s not about one specific dog or a specific book, but about any dog and any book in general. This is also the case for plural forms. It’s not about specific flowers, but about flowers in general.

Definite article – the

‘The’ is a definite article in English. This article is used when you refer to specific things. ‘The’ can be used for nouns in the singular and plural form and also for uncountable nouns. If someone uses a definite article, you know what or who this person is talking about based on the context. It should be clear from the context what or who he is referring to.

the book
the dog
the honest man
the autobiography

Place of the article in a sentence

In English, you put the article before the noun. If there already is an adjective, you put the article before the adjective.

the beautiful car
a small flower
the tree
the blue wall

Exercises