Uses of Indefinite and Definite Article

Introduce common uses of indefinite article and definite article: a or an is mainly used before countable singular noun; the is to specify singular or plural objects.

Note Topics:MorphologyThe NounThe ArticleThe Pronoun
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 By Jiabao Hors
Common Uses of Indefinite and Definite Article
1. Indefinite Article

A or An:  Originate as same as "one", is mainly used before countable singular noun.

1.1 Means one, as a number :

  • Rome wasn't built a day.
  • She is a friend of mine.
  • I take that bus 2 times a day.
  • The ship goes by 30 km an hour.
  • A car is waiting at the door.

1.2 Means someone, not specified to certain thing or person :

  • He was born in a small city.
  • They are waiting for a visitor.
  • An interesting story always makes kids laugh.
  • She is a Canadian writer.

1.3 Means one type or class of something :

  • A child needs love.
  • An owl can see in the dark.
  • An honest man usually is a fair man.
2. Definite Article

The:  Originate as same as "this" or "that", weaker than "this" or "that" but can be used on both singular and plural objects; it can be used with adjective too.

2.1 Means specific thing or things before singular or plural Individual noun :

  • Where are the other girls?
  • Put the phone on my desk.
  • Show the quests our meeting room.
  • Did you go to the opening ceremony?
Other nouns, not individual nouns, should be led by definite article too, only if they represents specific thing. For example,
  • Pass me the salt. (Mass Nouns)
  • Take the medicine now. (Mass Nouns)
  • I like the children's performance. (Abstract Nouns)
When we mention something second time in context, use definite article to specify it. For example,
  • I buy a computer and a printer, but I dislike the printer.
  • I enter a house in the street and see the rooms are very clean.

2.2 Means a specific type of something before singular noun :

  • The whale is in danger of extincting.
  • The 18 century is the golden age of the novel.
  • The plane has made the earth smaller.
  • The computer is changing our life.

2.3 Means the whole of an ethnic, class, or family before noun :

  • The Thompsons arrived at 8 o'clock.
  • The Japanese people like sushi.
  • They represent the interests of the middle class.

2.4 Used before noun to express unique object :

  • Do you know how big the universe is?
  • The sun lights the earth.
  • The Mike Way is bright in the sky.
  • The moon is in the middle of the air.
  • They arrived the North Pole.
  • His shuttle is leaving the outer space.

2.5 Used before adjective to express a type of people :

  • He shouldn't be among the unemployed.
  • These seats are for disabled.
  • Either the rich or the poor have same right to vote.

2.6 Used before adjective to form a noun phrase :

  • Our goal is to discover the good, the beautiful, and the true.
  • She admires the mystical.
  • I like to venture the unknown.