easy grammar · ESL grammar · Grammar

What’s the Most Frequently Used Word in English? The Indefinite Article

by Olga Koliichuk

articles

The answer is: A, and an.

We use articles all the time.

There are two types of articles : a/an, the.

 

a/an – Indefinite article

the –  Definite article

Today we will talk about the indefinite article.

The indefinite article a has another form an if it stands before the word beginning with a vowel (a, o, u, e, o).

Note: You use an only when you SAY the word with a vowel. For instance, you don’t write or say an university, even though university starts with a u. Why not? Because university is said with a [y] sound at the beginning.

Have a look at some examples:

Words with a Words with an
A dog An apple
A cherry An egg
A unique holiday spot An umbrella
A jeep An irresistible attraction
A party An elephant

 Uses of A/An

– A/an is used with countable nouns. We call a noun countable if we can count it.

E.g. a cat – two cats, three cats (we can count cats)

An orange – five oranges (we can count oranges)

Note: You can’t say a money or an oil. These are uncountable words. One money or one oil doesn’t exist.

  • If the word is mentioned by the speaker for the first time, it takes the indefinite article.

E.g. Then I saw a ship on the horizon.

ship

  • A/an has the meaning of “one.”

E.g. Two times a day, once a week

Give me a beer, please.

He has won a hundred dollars.

  • When we talk about professions, we also use a/an.

E.g. I am a marketing assistant.

I am an astronaut.

  • If we use a noun in a general meaning, we put a/an.

E.g. A cat is a pet animal.

A leopard runs fast.

  • We use A/AN in exclamatory sentences before countable nouns in the singular.

E.g. What a wonderful world!

What a tasty cake!

Exercise

Do you use A, AN or nothing?

  1. ______ dog will make you feel less alone.
  2. ____love is all you need.
  3. You should take this medicine four times ________ day. Not less.
  4. My niece wants _______ ice-cream.
  5. What _____ beautiful flowers!
  6. What _______ polite girl!
  7. I bought _____ new computer yesterday.
  8. Is he ______ doctor? Yes, he is ____ surgeon.
  9. ______ computer is ________ universal device.
  10. You would like _____ advocate to represent you, wouldn’t you?

Answers underneath:

 

 

 

 

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  1. ___A___ dog will make you feel less alone.
  2. __-__love is all you need.
  3. You should take this medicine four times ____a____ day. Not less.
  4. My niece wants __an_____ ice-cream.
  5. What ___-__ beautiful flowers!
  6. What __a_____ polite girl!
  7. I bought _a____ new computer yesterday.
  8. Is he __a____ doctor? Yes, he is __a__ surgeon.
  9. __a____ computer is _____a___ universal device.
  10. You would like __an___ advocate to represent you, wouldn’t you?

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