Article a/an, the

Introduction

This lesson is about the indefinite articles, “a” and “an”, and the definite article, “the”.

a/an = indefinite article that refers any noun
the = definite article that refers to a certain or specific noun

For example:

“Let’s see movie” means any  movie. (indefinite)
“Let’s see the movie” means a certain movie. (definite)

“A” or “an”?

An” is used instead of “a” before a vowel sound. For example:

An artist from the local community painted the wonderful mural at Chemainus.

Indefinite Article: A / AN

Explanation Example
A” and “an” are used when it is not clear which thing or person we are talking about. She was talking to a girl at the store. (This is an unknown girl, so a is used.)
A” and “an” can be used only with count nouns. I need a bottle of milk. I need an interesting topic for my speech.

Definite Article: THE

Explanation Example
The” is used when it is clear which thing or person we are talking about. Greg was talking to the girl from New York.
(This a specific girl from New York, so the is used.)The sun comes up every day.
The” is used when there is only one of a particular thing. London is the capital of England.

We went to the most expensive city in the world.

The + adjective

The is used with some adjectives (without a noun).
For example: the young , the old, the sick
(The meaning is always plural.)

Do you think that the rich should give money to the poor?
The + nationality adjectives

The” is used with most nationality words which refer to the people of a specific country.
For example: the Canadiansthe Japanese

The Italians are famous for their delicious food.
Certain nouns use the:

names of rivers, oceans and seas: the Mississippi, the Atlantic

points on the globe: the Equator, the South  Pole

geographical areas: the Middle East, the West, as well as desertsforestsgulfs, and peninsulas

The Atlantic is a huge, deep, dark ocean.

The Middle East is fascinating.

The Gulf of Mexico is below Texas.

We live near the Saanich Peninsula.

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