English Articles for MNS Exam Preparation
What is an article? Basically, an article is an adjective. Like adjectives, articles modify nouns.
English has two articles: the and a/an. The is used to refer to specific or particular nouns; a/an is used to modify non-specific or non-particular nouns. We call the the definite article and a/an the indefinite article.
the = definite article
a/an = indefinite article
For example, if I say, "Let's read the book," I mean a specific book. If I say, "Let's read abook," I mean any book rather than a specific book.
Here's another way to explain it: The is used to refer to a specific or particular member of a group. For example, "I just saw the most popular movie of the year." There are many movies, but only one particular movie is the most popular. Therefore, we use the.
"A/an" is used to refer to a non-specific or non-particular member of the group. For example, "I would like to go see a movie." Here, we're not talking about a specific movie. We're talking about any movie. There are many movies, and I want to see any movie. I don't have a specific one in mind.
Let's look at each kind of article a little more closely.
Indefinite Articles: a and an
"A" and "an" signal that the noun modified is indefinite, referring to any member of a group. For example:
- "My daughter really wants a dog for Christmas." This refers to any dog. We don't know which dog because we haven't found the dog yet.
- "Somebody call a policeman!" This refers to any policeman. We don't need a specific policeman; we need any policeman who is available.
- "When I was at the zoo, I saw an elephant!" Here, we're talking about a single, non-specific thing, in this case an elephant. There are probably several elephants at the zoo, but there's only one we're talking about here.
Remember, using a or an depends on the sound that begins the next word. So...
- a + singular noun beginning with a consonant: a boy; a car; a bike; a zoo; a dog
- an + singular noun beginning with a vowel: an elephant; an egg; an apple; an idiot; an orphan
- a + singular noun beginning with a consonant sound: a user (sounds like 'yoo-zer,' i.e. begins with a consonant 'y' sound, so 'a' is used); a university; a unicycle
- an + nouns starting with silent "h": an hour
- a + nouns starting with a pronounced "h": a horse
- In some cases where "h" is pronounced, such as "historical," you can use an. However, a is more commonly used and preferred.
A historical event is worth recording.
Remember that these rules also apply when you use acronyms:
Introductory Composition at Purdue (ICaP) handles first-year writing at the University. Therefore, an ICaP memo generally discusses issues concerning English 106 instructors.
Another case where this rule applies is when acronyms or initialisms start with consonant letters but have vowel sounds:
An MSDS (material safety data sheet) was used to record the data. An SPCC plan (Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures plan) will help us prepare for the worst.
If the noun is modified by an adjective, the choice between a and an depends on the initial sound of the adjective that immediately follows the article:
- a broken egg
- an unusual problem
- a European country (sounds like 'yer-o-pi-an,' i.e. begins with consonant 'y' sound)
Remember, too, that in English, the indefinite articles are used to indicate membership in a group:
- I am a teacher. (I am a member of a large group known as teachers.)
- Brian is an Irishman. (Brian is a member of the people known as Irish.)
- Seiko is a practicing Buddhist. (Seiko is a member of the group of people known as Buddhists.)
Definite Article: the
The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. The signals that the noun is definite, that it refers to a particular member of a group. For example:
"The dog that bit me ran away." Here, we're talking about a specific dog, the dog that bit me.
"I was happy to see the policeman who saved my cat!" Here, we're talking about a particularpoliceman. Even if we don't know the policeman's name, it's still a particular policeman because it is the one who saved the cat.
"I saw the elephant at the zoo." Here, we're talking about a specific noun. Probably there is only one elephant at the zoo.
Count and Noncount Nouns
The can be used with noncount nouns, or the article can be omitted entirely.
- "I love to sail over the water" (some specific body of water) or "I love to sail over water" (any water).
- "He spilled the milk all over the floor" (some specific milk, perhaps the milk you bought earlier that day) or "He spilled milk all over the floor" (any milk).
"A/an" can be used only with count nouns.
- "I need a bottle of water."
- "I need a new glass of milk."
Most of the time, you can't say, "She wants a water," unless you're implying, say, a bottle of water.
Geographical use of the
There are some specific rules for using the with geographical nouns.
Do not use the before:
- names of most countries/territories: Italy, Mexico, Bolivia; however, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, the United States
- names of cities, towns, or states: Seoul, Manitoba, Miami
- names of streets: Washington Blvd., Main St.
- names of lakes and bays: Lake Titicaca, Lake Erie except with a group of lakes like the Great Lakes
- names of mountains: Mount Everest, Mount Fuji except with ranges of mountains like the Andes or the Rockies or unusual names like the Matterhorn
- names of continents (Asia, Europe)
- names of islands (Easter Island, Maui, Key West) except with island chains like theAleutians, the Hebrides, or the Canary Islands
Do use the before:
- names of rivers, oceans and seas: the Nile, the Pacific
- points on the globe: the Equator, the North Pole
- geographical areas: the Middle East, the West
- deserts, forests, gulfs, and peninsulas: the Sahara, the Persian Gulf, the Black Forest, the Iberian Peninsula
Omission of Articles
Some common types of nouns that don't take an article are:
- Names of languages and nationalities: Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian (unless you are referring to the population of the nation: "The Spanish are known for their warm hospitality.")
- Names of sports: volleyball, hockey, baseball
- Names of academic subjects: mathematics, biology, history, computer science
DIRECTIONS :Fill in the blanks with correct Articles.
New York is ----- large city
Use an article of a, an or the to fill in each blank so as to complete the sentence.
1. _____ dog is _____ useful animal.
1 Ans. The / A dog is a useful animal. (NOT: The/A dog is an useful animal.)
2. Honest people speak _____ truth.
2 Ans. Honest people speak the truth.
3. Look at _____ white cloud.
3 Ans. Look at the white cloud.
4. _____ world is _____ happy place to most people.
4 Ans. The world is a happy place to most people.
5. _____ sun shines brightly.
5 Ans. The sun shines brightly.
6. Our sun is in fact _____ star in the universe.
6 Ans. Our sun is in fact a star in the universe.
7. I first met him _____ year ago.
7 Ans. I first met him a year ago.
8. It is _____ island of great beauty.
8 Ans. It is an island of great beauty.
9. To me, it is _____ only island of great beauty.
9 Ans. To me, it is the only island of great beauty.
10. _____ horse is _____ wild horse.
10 Ans. The horse is a wild horse.
11. Riding _____ horse is _____ great experience.
11 Ans. Riding a horse is a great experience.
12. _____ lion is _____ king of beasts.
12 Ans. The lion is the king of beasts.
13. Some people keep _____ snake as _____ pet.
13 Ans. Some people keep a snake as a pet.
14. His mother told him, “You are _____ untidy boy.”
14 Ans. His mother told him, “You are an untidy boy.”
15. Look at me, I am always _____ happy person.
15 Ans. Look at me, I am always a happy person.
16. I'll give him _____ good news now.
16 Ans. I'll give him the good news now.
17. French is _____ language of _____ people of France.
17 Ans. French is the language of the people of France.
18. He looks as wise as _____ owl.
18 Ans. He looks as wise as an owl.
19. _____ Mekong is _____ important river.
19 Ans. The Mekong is an important river.
20. _____ European called at my office yesterday.
20 Ans. A European called at my office yesterday.
Use an article of a, an or the to fill in each blank so as to complete the sentence.
Click the sentence for the answer.
1. She's never been _____ sort of person to follow _____ herd.
1 Ans. She's never been the sort of person to follow the herd.
2. _____ pilot requested clearance for _____ emergency landing.
2 Ans. The pilot requested clearance for an emergency landing.
3. _____ government has chartered _____ plane to carry supplies to _____ disaster area.
3 Ans. The government has chartered a plane to carry supplies to the disaster area.
4. It is _____ worst disaster in _____ history of space travel.
4 Ans. It is the worst disaster in the history of space travel.
5. _____ dog got out of _____ yard through _____ hole in _____ fence.
5 Ans. The dog got out of the yard through a hole in the fence.
6. _____ child has had _____ unhappy home life.
6 Ans. The child has had an unhappy home life.
7. He showed me a picture of _____ missing girl in _____ hope that I might recognize her.
7 Ans. He showed me a picture of the missing girl in the hope that I might recognize her.
8. _____ class teaches young students how to use _____ computer.
8 Ans. The class teaches young students how to use a computer.
9. In _____ ideal world there would be no need for _____ police force.
9 Ans. In an ideal world there would be no need for a police force.
10. With _____ little imagination, he could visualize _____ old house as _____ luxury hotel.
10 Ans. With a little imagination, he could visualize the old house as a luxury hotel.
11. Lincoln had _____ eerie feeling that _____ place was haunted.
11 Ans. Lincoln had an eerie feeling that the place was haunted.
12. Plant _____ seeds at _____ depth of not more than ten centimeters.
12 Ans. Plant the seeds at a depth of not more than ten centimeters.
13. She told us _____ incredible story of her 134 days lost in _____ desert.
13 Ans. She told us the incredible story of her 134 days lost in the desert.
14. Dr Dawson received _____ invitation to speak at _____ scientific conference.
14 Ans. Dr Dawson received an invitation to speak at a scientific conference.
15. It would be doing him _____ kindness to tell him _____ truth.
15 Ans. It would be doing him a kindness to tell him the truth.
16. In _____ vast majority of cases _____ disease proves fatal.
16 Ans. In the vast majority of cases the disease proves fatal.
17. These findings point to _____ country with _____ worst record on pollution.
17 Ans. These findings point to the country with the worst record on pollution.
18. Their help has made _____ big difference to _____ team's success.
18 Ans. Their help has made a big difference to the team's success.
19. _____ other car was being driven right in _____ middle of _____ road.
19 Ans. The other car was being driven right in the middle of the road.
20. _____ board of directors wasn't convinced about _____ accuracy of _____ report.
20 Ans. The board of directors wasn't convinced about the accuracy of the report.
Fill in articles (a, an, the) where required.
Click the question for the answer.
Example: I bought puppy and pair of kittens. Puppy was quite expensive, but kittens weren't.
Example Ans: I bought a puppy and a pair of kittens. The puppy was quite expensive, but the kittens weren't.
1. Buy me can of beer from store, please.
1 Ans. Buy me a can of beer from a/the store, please.
2. Is that frog or toad?
2 Ans. Is that a frog or a toad?
3. Are you coming for drink with me?
3 Ans. Are you coming for a drink with me?
4. Music is great source of enjoyment.
4 Ans. Music is a great source of enjoyment.
5. There wasn't soul to be seen in park.
5 Ans. There wasn't a soul to be seen in the park..
6. He decided to enter priesthood.
6 Ans. He decided to enter the priesthood.
7. This is latest news from Olympic Stadium.
7 Ans. This is the latest news from the Olympic Stadium.
8. In rage, she tore letter to pieces.
8 Ans. In a rage, she tore the letter to pieces.
9. Look! Billboard pictured handsome man smoking cigarette.
9 Ans. Look! The billboard pictured a handsome man smoking a cigarette.
10. Factory had been built on piece of waste ground.
10 Ans. The factory had been built on a piece of waste ground.
11. Mine has few remaining pockets of iron ore.
11 Ans. The mine has a few remaining pockets of iron ore.
12. Firework display was high point of evening.
12 Ans. The firework display was the high point of the evening.
13. There's place on wall where paint is coming off.
13 Ans. There's a place on the wall where the paint is coming off.
14. World record was previously held by Spanish athlete.
14 Ans. The world record was previously held by a Spanish athlete.
15. Sample of blood was drawn from prick in skin.
15. A sample of blood was drawn from a prick in the skin.
16. As car drew nearer I realized driver was stranger.
16 Ans. As the car drew nearer I realized the driver was a stranger.
17. We grew up in countryside surrounded by beauties of nature.
17 Ans. We grew up in the countryside surrounded by the beauties of nature.
18. Crowd of onlookers had gathered at scene of accident.
18 Ans. A crowd of onlookers had gathered at the scene of the accident.
19. There's only just room for two of us on back seat.
19 Ans. There's only just room for the two of us on the back seat.
20. Over period of ten years he stole million pounds from company.
20 Ans. Over a period of ten years he stole a million pounds from the company.