A / AN
Use 'a' with nouns starting with a consonant (letters that are not vowels),
'an' with nouns starting with a vowel (a,e,i,o,u)
An before an h mute - an hour, an honour.
A before u and eu when they sound like 'you': a european, a university, a unit
The indefinite article is used:
· to refer to something for the first time:
An elephant and a mouse fell in love.
Would you like a drink?
I've finally got a good job.
· to refer to a particular member of a group or class
o with names of jobs:
John is a doctor.
Mary is training to be an engineer.
He wants to be a dancer.
o with nationalities and religions:
John is an Englishman.
Kate is a Catholic.
o with musical instruments:
Sherlock Holmes was playing a violin when the visitor arrived.
(BUT to describe the activity we say "He plays the violin.")
o with names of days:
I was born on a Thursday
· to refer to a kind of, or example of something:
the mouse had a tiny nose
the elephant had a long trunk
it was a very strange car
· with singular nouns, after the words 'what' and 'such':
What a shame!
She's such a beautiful girl.
· meaning 'one', referring to a single object or person:
I'd like an orange and two lemons please.
The burglar took a diamond necklace and a valuable painting.
Notice also that we usually say a hundred, a thousand, a million.
NOTE: that we use 'one' to add emphasis or to contrast with other numbers:
I don't know one person who likes eating elephant meat.
We've got six computers but only one printer.
EXCEPTIONS TO USING THE DEFINITE ARTICLE
There is no article:
· with names of countries (if singular)
He's just returned from
(But: I'm visiting the
· with the names of languages
French is spoken in
English uses many words of Latin origin.
Indonesian is a relatively new language.
· with the names of meals.
Lunch is at midday.
Dinner is in the evening.
Breakfast is the first meal of the day.
· with people's names (if singular):
John's coming to the party.
George King is my uncle.
(But: we're having lunch with the Morgans tomorrow.)
· with titles and names:
Prince Charles is Queen Elizabeth's son.
President Kennedy was assassinated in
Dr. Watson was Sherlock Holmes' friend.
(But: the Queen of
· After the 's possessive case:
His brother's car.
· with professions:
Engineering is a useful career.
He'll probably go into medicine.
· with names of shops:
I'll get the card at Smith's.
Can you go to Boots for me?
· with years:
1948 was a wonderful year.
Do you remember 1995?
· With uncountable nouns:
Rice is the main food in
Milk is often added to tea in
War is destructive.
· with the names of individual mountains, lakes and islands:
She lives near
Have you visited
· with most names of towns, streets, stations and airports:
Victoria Station is in the centre of
Can you direct me to
She lives in
They're flying from Heathrow.
· in some fixed expressions, for example: