Definite and Indefinite Articles (a, an, the) and Articles Rules

Published on 29-Jun-2022

Look at the following text.

It is an excellent living room for Anika. The room is well designed. It has a window beside the stairs leading to the bedroom. The room is decorated with a table and two couches. It has a rug which has enhanced the beauty of the room. An enchanting painting is hanging on the wall, but the most mesmerizing part of the room is an outstanding flower vase on the table with some fresh flowers.

In the above pictures, the words window, table, and rug are nouns. They are singular nouns, and each word starts with a consonant. So 'a' is used before these three words.

The adjectives excellent, enchanting, and outstanding qualify the singular nouns living room, painting, and flower vase respectfully, and each of these adjectives starts with a vowel. So 'an' is used before these words.

The words room, stairs, bedroom, wall, most, and table refer to particular matters. So the is used before these words.

Classification of Articles

'A, an, and the' are called articles in English. Articles are adjectives as they qualify nouns. Articles are, however, different from the adjective in the following ways:

(i) Adjective has a degree of comparison, but the article has no degree of comparison, 

(ii) Most adjectives can be used predicatively, but articles have no predicative use 

Articles are of two kinds: (i) Indefinite and (ii) Definite.

Indefinite Article: 

'A' and 'an' are called indefinite articles because they refer to an indefinite person or things or animals. 'A/an' is primarily used before singular countable nouns. In terms of meaning, 'a' and 'an' have no difference. In usage, however, there is a difference between them: For example:

He bought a pen.

The boy took an egg.

Definite Article:  

'The' is called the definite article because it refers to a particular person or thing. The definite article is used before both singular and plural nouns.

Uses of A and AN

1.’A' is usually used before a word beginning with a consonant, and 'an is used before words beginning with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u).

Examples: a hen, a boy, a pen, an egg, an apple.

2. If 'h' in the first letter of a word is pronounced, 'a' is used before that word, and if 'h' remains silent, 'an' is used instead.

Examples: a horse, a historian, an honest man, an hour.

3. 'a' is used before a word that begins with a vowel or vowels pronounced like 'u.' 

Examples: a ewe, a European, a uniform, a university, a useful metal, a unique position.

4. Generally, words beginning with 'O1 take' an' before them. However, 'a' is used before words that begin with one.

Examples: an open field, an open heart surgery, an opera, an orange, a one-taka note, a one-eyed man.

5. An is used before abbreviations, and individual letters are pronounced like a vowel sound. Examples: an M. A., and F. R. C. S, and F. C. P. S.

However, 'a' is used instead of the first letter of the abbreviation sounds like a consonant. - Examples: a B.A.B.A., a B. Sc. etc.


1. 'a/an' is used before a singular common noun to represent a group of similar things. Examples:

A dog is a faithful animal. An ant is industrious, a/an used in this way before a singular common noun is called Generalizing' a' or an.

2. 'a/an' is used before a singular countable noun when it is mentioned for the first time and represents no particular person or thing. Examples:  I live in a tiny room.

3. 'a/an' is used before a singular common noun to mean 'the same' 'a certain' etc. Examples:

Criminals are of a (the same) character. They are men of a (the same) profession. There lived an (a certain) king.

4. Sometimes 'a' is used as a preposition. It is called a disguised proposition. The king went (on) hunting.

5. 'a' is used before few, little, well many, lot of, great many, good deal, etc., when they are used before plural nouns. 


He earns a lot of money. There is a little water in the glass. There are a few apples on the table. He lived a great many years. King Solomon had a great deal of money.

6. 'a' is used before certain number expressions such as couple, dozen, score (20), hundred, thousand, million, etc. 


He earns a hundred taka a day. They sold a dozen pens. At least a million people attended the meeting.

7. 'a/an' is used after what, how, such, etc., to mean exclamations.

Examples: Such a long queue, what a pretty girl, how nice a bird,

8. 'a/an' is used before certain phrases. For example: In a body, in a hurry, in a nutshell, in a fix, in a temper, to take an interest.

9. 'a/an' is used before singular common nouns which are preceded by quite, many, rather, but, etc.


Gulliver's Travels is quite an interesting book. Mr. Khan is rather a gentleman. You are but a child. Not a rickshaw is seen on the road.

10. 'a/an' is used after so, too, etc., which are used before adjectives,

Examples: This is too serious a matter for him to overlook. Iron is so useful a metal.

11. 'a/an' is used before proper nouns used as common nouns to mean comparison. 


Nelson Mandela is an Abraham Lincoln in his ideals. I see you are a Wordsworth.

12. 'a/an' is used before abstract nouns are used as common nouns. 

Example: Helen was a beauty.

13. 'a/an' is used before a singular common noun is used before many. Examples: Many a boy was present in the meeting.

14.    'A' is placed before Mr/Mrs/Miss+ surname. 

Examples. A Mr. Rahman called at my office. A Mrs. Shamima sought his help.

15.    'a' is used before the half when half follows a whole number: 1~- kilos = one and a half kilos or one kilo and a half.

16.   'a'/'an' is used in expressions of price, speed, ratio, etc. 

Tk. Fifty a kilo, eighty kilometers an hour, Tk. 25 a dozen, four times a day.


1. 'a/an' is not used before meals. But a/an is used before meals when an adjective modifies them. Examples :

Incorrect: We have breakfast at 7 am. Correct: We have breakfast at 7 am. Incorrect: We had a good breakfast yesterday. Correct: We had a good breakfast yesterday.

2. Normally a/an is not used before plural nouns.

Examples: Roses are beautiful. Horses are useful.

3. Words such as advice, information, news, baggage, and luggage are uncountable nouns and do not take 'a/an' before them. Examples:

My teacher gave me good advice. The police failed to get the correct information regarding the murder.

4.  'a/an' is not used before uncountable nouns such as water, milk, oil, ink, hydrogen, tea, paper, etc.

Examples: We write on paper. We take tea. Milk is a nutritious food.

However, when a and an are used before uncountable nouns, they are used with some measure words. Examples: Give me a glass of water.

5. 'a/an' is not used before abstract nouns. Kindness is a great virtue.

Uses of Definite Article: The

1. The is used before singular and plural common nouns to particularise a person or thing. Examples: The boys are playing. The girl is reading.

2.  The is used before singular common nouns to represent a whole class.

Examples: The horse is a faithful animal, a horse is a faithful animal, or Horses are faithful animals.

"The1 used in this way is called 'Generalising.'

Note: Instead of using 'the', the given common nouns could be made plural for the same meaning.

Example :

Incorrect: The man is mortal. Correct: Man is mortal.

The is not used before man and woman to represent the human race.

3. The is used before names of river, sea, gulf, ocean, mountain ranges, island groups, ships, etc.

Examples :

The Andamans, the Himalayas, The Pacific

But The' is not used before a single mountain or island. 

Examples: Sandwip, Hatia, Mount Everest.

4.The is used before names of holy books and newspapers.

 Examples: The holy Quran, the Observer.

5.The is used before singular nouns referring to things of which only one exists, such as the earth, the sun, the moon, the east, the west, the north, the south, etc. 

Examples: The sun, The earth, the moon. The polestar. "The1 used in this way is called Familiar The1.

6.The is used before descriptive or significant geographical names. 

Examples: The U. S. A, the U. S. S. R

7.The is used before the names of dates.

Examples: 10th November, the 26th March.

8.The is used before common nouns as a substitute for the possessive Adjectives.


 He struck me on the. (my) head. The teacher pulled the boy by (his) ear.

9.The is used before the names of nation and community. 

Examples :

The English, the rich, the poor, the pious, and the Muslims. Nation and community are common plural nouns and take a plural verb.

10. The is used before adjectives in the superlative degree. 

Example: He is the best boy in the class.

11. To indicate a contrast between the two, the is used before adjectives in the comparative degree. Ruba is the better of the two girls.

12. The is used as an adverb in comparative senses. 

Example: The sooner, the better.

14. The is used before nouns to indicate a profession.

Example: He joined the army. o

Note: When ordinal numbers are written in Roman, no article is used, but the article 'the' has to

be pronounced while reading.

Example: Edward vii (the seventh), George vi (the sixth).

15. The is used before adjectives to express an abstract quality. Example: People love the brave.

Note: In the above sentence, the word 'brave1 indicates an abstract quality of a person * Fortune favors the diligent.

16.  The is used before abstract nouns to express the quality of a particular person or thing. Example: The courage of Richard is known to all.

17. The is used before some adjectives and common nouns in the singular number to express an abstract idea.

Examples: e The mother (motherly affection) rose in her. The fox (cunningness) was found in him.

18.    When two persons or things of the same quality are compared, the is used before the noun

with which the comparison is made. 'Example: Nazrul is the Shelley of Bengal.

19. The is not usually used before material nouns. However, the is used to indicate specialty or place of origin. Example: The perfume of Saudi Arabia is famous.

20. The is used before names of noted public and historical places. Example: Ibrahim Lodi was defeated in the battle of Panipat.

21.    Adjectives used before proper nouns take 'the' before them. Example: The great Omar was the second Caliph of Islam.

22.    The is used before singular designation.

Examples: The President, the Prime Minister, the Headmaster.

23.  The is used before nouns used with an excellent force. Examples :

Michael Jackson is the singer of the day. Humayun Ahmed is the novelist of the day.

24. The is used before the plural names of families.

Examples: The Mughals, The Pathans, The Khans.

25.  The is used before common nouns are defined by adjectives/adjective phrases or clauses. Examples: The man who came here yesterday is my friend. The man in a white dress is known to me.

26. The is used before a numerical word as a unit. Examples :

He sells mangoes by the hundred. The man buys eggs by the score.

N. B: It is wrong to say by the dozens, scores, and hundreds. By the dozens, by the scores, by the hundreds

27. The is used before epithets are used after proper nouns. Example: Alexander the great was a brave warrior.

28. The is used before musical instruments. Example: He plays the piano.

29. The is used before choir, orchestra, and pop groups. Examples: The Miles, The Abba.

30.    The is used before certain collective nouns.

Examples: The elite, the peasantry, the audience

31.    The is used before certain proper nouns with adjectives or before the structure noun,+ of + proper noun. '                   

Examples: The national zoo at Mirpur, the National Science Museum, and the fort of Lalbag. \

Omission of Article

1.  The is not used before the names of the famous book if the writers' names are mentioned before the names. However, the is used if the writers' names come after. Example: The Agnibina of Nazrul or Nazrul's Agnibina.

2. The words bed, mosque, church, hospital, prison, school, college, university, court, etc., take no article when we think of the building or object used for primary purposes. Examples :

After I leave school, I want to go to college (as a student). Mr. Rahim is in prison for murder (as a prisoner). Mr. Karim goes to the mosque on Friday (normally, a Muslim goes to the mosque)

However, when these words are used for special purposes, they take 'the' before them. ,

Examples :

Mr. Khan went to the school to meet his son's teacher (not as a pupil). Mr. Rahim went to the

prison to see Karim. (as a visitor, not as a prisoner.)

3. Home preceded by descriptive words or phrases does not take an article.

Example: We arrived at the bride's home. But when there is no descriptive word or phrase before home, it takes 'the' before it. Example: For some four or five years, this was the home for the queen.

4. No article is used before nouns of seasons though the definite article may also be found in certain general statements. Examples: The rain has set in. It dews in winter.

5. No article is used before names of streets, avenues, squares, buildings, parks, etc.

Examples: In the morning, I go to the Bahadurshah Park. He bought a shop on Park Street.

However, the is used if the word 'road' is mentioned at the end of a road's name.

Example: He bought a shop on Mirpur Road. *

Note: Here, the word road has been used to indicate the name of a road (Mirpur Road). So the

has been used before Mirpur Road. • ^

6. The is not normally used before proper, abstract, material, and plural common nouns.

Examples: Dhaka is a populous city. Forgiveness is a great virtue. Iron is a useful metal.

Cows give us milk.

However, the is used before plural common nouns when they are particularised. «

The women in the hall are all in red saree. The flowers in his garden (not flowers in general) \

are fine.

Note: The is used before proper nouns when they are pre-modified by title words. '

Examples: The poet Nazrul is our pride. The caliph Omar was a great ruler.

The is used before abstract nouns when they mean no quality, or rather they mean the persons have that quality. Abstract nouns used in this sense can also be made plural. For example :

Nazrul is the glory of Bangladesh. The crimes committed by the rulers are unpardonable.

7. No article is used before common nouns that modify proper nouns. Such common nouns do; the function of adjectives. Example: Principal Jalaluddin was a man of strict principles.                                                                          


8. No article is used before common nouns qualified by pronominal and numeral adjectives. Examples: This is my book. Each boy has a separate room.

9. No article is used before titles when they are opposed to a noun. I Example: Dr. Enamul Haque, Vice-Chancellor of Jahangir Nagar University, was a scholar. Note: An apposition is a phrase that sits after the subject or object in a sentence and supplies more information about that subject or object. Example: Boys, you are the future leaders of the country.

10. No article is used before names of language. ,     Example: English is an international language.

But if the word language is used after the names, the definite article 'the' is used. * f Example: The English language is very interesting to learn.

11.    It was not used before the names of lakes. I Lake Superior, Lake Baikal, Lake Caspian.

12.The' is not used before day and month. f Example: Friday, January, etc.                                                                                                                

13.The' is not used before the names of diseases.

Example: Cholera has broken out in the village. Exception: the measles, the mumps.

14. No article is used before complementing verbs such as nominate, elect, select, make, appoint, crown, choose, etc.

Examples: We made him chairman. They elected me captain.

Note: Complement: The word used after the subject/object to express a complete; sense is called complement.                

'In the first sentence, the verb made takes the object him, but it cannot express its full meaning. When the noun chairman sits after the object, the sentence expresses full meaning. \ However, 'the' is used to make the complement definite. Example: We made him the captain of the team.

15. No article is used before Allah or God. Example: Allah has created this earth.

16. The is not used before parts of the body or dresses because they function as possessive adjectives. Examples: Raise your left hand. He took off his shirt.

17. The is not used before the names of games. Example: He plays football.

18. The is not used before nouns used after possessive case. Example: It is my book.

19.  No article is used before a form of transport or before a journey route.

Examples: by bus, by train, by launch, by air, by sea, by water, by river

20.    No article is used before singular common nouns are used in a phrase. Examples: He went there on foot. He begs from door to door.

Repetition of Articles

1.  When two or more adjectives refer to the same noun, the article is used before the first. Example: He has a red and white horse.

But if two or more adjectives qualify two different nouns, the article is placed before each of the nouns.

Examples: I have a red horse and a white horse. (I have two horses, one red and one white.)

2.  When two or more nouns are joined by and refer to the same thing, the article is used only before the first; but if they refer to different persons or things, the article should be repeated before each. Examples:

The Headmaster and Secretary is present in the meeting, (same person) The Headmaster and the secretary are present in the meeting, (different persons)

3. If two or more adjectives are used before a singular noun, an article is used before each of the adjectives. Examples: I have read the book's fourth and fifth chapters of the book.

4. Sometimes use of articles results in a change of meanings. For example, few means many, almost nothing, a few means at least, and a few means not many but all. Examples: I have a few books. I have a few books. I have a few friends.

— (not many)

—(some at least)

—(not many but all)

Similarly, little means 'not much'; a little means some at least, and the little means 'not much.'

But all.

I have little rice.

I have a little rice.

I have the little rice.

— (not much).

— (some at least)

— (not much but all)

5. In comparison, if two nouns refer to the same object, the article is used before the first noun only. But if the nouns refer to different objects, the article is used before each noun. Examples: She is a better singer than a dancer, (same person) She is a better singer than a dancer, (different persons)


1.  Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (x) where an article is not needed.

(a) ——— present age is marked not only by (b) ——— the importance of (c) ——— family as (d) —

— economic and welfare institution but also by its (e) —— increasing importance as an arrangement for socializing and raising children and for (f) —— psychological support of adults. In (g) ———— pre-industrial (h) ———— feudal society, both husbands and wives worked outside the home, but in (i) —— industrial period, women were separated from homework. They engaged in indoor activities. Men became (j) —— wage-earners.

2.  Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (x) where an article is not needed.

Dowry means property or money a bride brings to her (a) ———— husband. During marriage ceremony (b) ———— section of greedy people claim much wealth or money from (c)

———— guardians of the brides, (d) ———— poor, illiterate girls become (e) ———— victims of dowry. If (f) ———— guardians fail to fulfill (g) ——— demand of (h) ——— bridegroom, the brides are maltreated. So the poor can not think of the marriage of their daughters. It is (i) —-— social curse. This curse can be eliminated by changing people's outlook, especially the male (j) ——— members.

3.  Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (X) where an article is not needed.

The population of a country is (a) ——— asset, but it becomes (b) ——— problem when the country cannot afford to her people (c) ———— basic needs of life. Bangladesh is (d) ——— country having (e) ———— area of about 1,44,000 square kilometers. So Bangladesh is (f) —

—— densely populated country. Still, her population is increasing at (g) ------- alarming

rate. The present growth rate of (h) ———— population in (i) ——— Bangladesh is 21.6 per 1000 people. It is obviously (j) ———— very high rate.

4.  Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (X) where an article is not needed.

If someone wants to be (a) ——— good teacher, he must have the qualities of (b) ——— actor. He must have (c) ——— clear voice so that he can draw (d) ——— attention of his audience and make (e) ——— the meaning of his speech clear to them. (I) ——— expert teacher uses his arms, hands, and fingers to express his feelings so that (g) ——— students can understand his lectures. In (h) ——— fact, a good teacher shares (i) —— qualities of (j) ----- good actor.

5.  Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (X) where an article is not needed.

Jack-fruit in Bangla is, known as Kanthal, is (a) ———— national fruit of F.B.F.B.) —— Bangladesh. It is (c) ———— largest of all fruits in Bangladesh, and it is abundantly grown in all (d) ——— parts of (e) ——— country. It is (f) ——— seasonal fruit which usually ripens during (g) ——— summer, (h) ———— fruit has (i) ———— prickly skin outside but its (j) —

— tasty flakes are arranged inside.

6. Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (X) where an article is not needed.

Muhammad Yunus was born in (a) ————— Chittagong (b) ————— business center of Eastern Bangladesh. He was (c) ———— third of 14 children of his parents. He was awarded (d) ————— full bright scholarship and received his (e) ————— Ph. D. from (f) -----U.S.A. He is (g) ———— founder and Managing Director of (h) ——— Grammer bank. In 1997 he organized (i)-——— world's first Micro Credit Summit in (j) ———- Washington DC.

7.  Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (X) where an article is not needed.

Since the creation of the earth, there has been (a) —— the strange relationship between man and animals. In (b) —— recent newspaper article, we read about (c) ——— Australian swimmer who was saved from (d) — shark attacked (e) —— a group of dolphins when (f) —— shark by (g) — swimmer, (h) — dolphins chased it away. They saved (i) — the swimmer's life. It is believed the dolphins that are free in (j) — nature live around 40 years.

8. Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (x) where an article is not needed.

Bangladesh is (a) -———— land of rivers. It got freedom in (b) ————— 1971 through the liberation war. It is located in South Asia, (c) ———— Dhaka is the Capital of Bangladesh. Dhaka is also known as (d) ———— city of mosques. About 16 crore people live here. Most of them are poor and illiterate. They earn their livelihood through agriculture. But educated and skilled people work in offices and factories. Our main food is (e) ———— rice and fish. It is a country of beauty. Its flora and fauna attract (f) ————— eyes. Bangladesh has eight administrative divisions and 64 districts. It is, in fact, (g) ———— large village, (h) ———— people of Bangladesh are very hospitable. There are many beautiful things here that attract (i)

————— travelers and tourists. The people of Bangladesh like to live (j) ————— conservative life.

9. Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (x) where an article is not needed.

Once (a) ———— poet (b) ——— Wordsworth was wandering when he suddenly saw a great number of (c) ——— daffodils beside the lake. Stretching along (d) ———— shore of (e) —— r bay, they looked as numerous as (f) — stars in (g) ———— Milky way. (h) — daffodils were fluttering and dancing so gaily in (i) —— a breeze that even (j) —— dancing waves glittering in the sunshine seemed to pale in comparison.

10.Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (x) where an article is not needed.

Everybody knows that sincerity is (a) ——— key to success and (b) —— a person can prosper in life by doing hard work. The man who does not follow (c) ——-rules of sincerity can never go (d) —— a long way in (e) ——— world. Many (f) —— man is not conscious of (g) —— the importance of (h) —— sincerity for which they don't have (i) —— benefit of (j) —— success. However, we should be sincere in our work. ,

11. Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (X) where an article is not needed. \

A book fair is (a) ————— attractive fair where different types of books are displayed. Nowadays it has become very popular, (b) ———— two books fair held in our country are (c)

———— Ekushey Boi Mela and the Dhaka Boi Mela. (d) ———— other small-scale book fairs are also held on (e) ———— some other occasions, including (f) ———— Pahela Baishakh. I was very lucky to visit the Dhaka Boi Mela this year. When I entered (g) ——— the fair's main gate, I found (h) ———— different environment. It was clear to me that (i) ———— book fair is a world in itself and is different from (j) —— other fairs.

12. Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (X) where an article is not needed.

(a) — blood bank is (b) — a place where blood is stored for future use in (c) — hospitals. It is similar to (d) — money bank, where people deposit money and draw it when (e) — necessary. But in (f) — blood bank (g) — blood is not deposited in (h) — individual names. Mostly blood is donated voluntarily, and those who donate blood are inspired by (i) —

— the noble spirit of (j) — charity and fellow feeling.

13. Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (x) where an article is not needed.

(a) ——— leader of (b) —— robbers became astonished. He said to (c) ———— boy, "My boy, why did you not tell (d) ——- lie?" (e) —-— boy said. "How can I tell (f) ------ lie?" When I

left home, my mother forbade me to tell (g) ——— lie. So I am speaking (h)———— truth. Hearing this (i) ——— leader became astonished and gave up (j) —— robbery.

14.Use articles where necessary. Put a cross (X) where an article is not needed.

(a) ————— Sangsad Bhaban of Bangladesh is situated at Sher-E-Bangla Nagar. It is (b) —— ——— wonder of modern architecture and technology. It is one of (c) ————— largest buildings in (d) ————— world. It was designed by (e) ————— famous architect Louis I Khan. He was (f) ————— American. The building is surrounded by (g) ————— artificial lake. It is called (h) ————— Crescent Lake. The main section is hidden behind (i) ———— strong outer (j) ————— covering.


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