Practical English Grammar

Articles are a kind of word that identifies which noun is being referred. In other words, the articles are a kind of adjectives which modifies the nouns. There are two kinds of article:

Definite article: the

Article "the" is used with a specific noun. Often it is used with proper nouns. However, it is not limited to proper noun only. It is also used when there is a reference of a particular noun.

The Taj Mahal is a beautiful monument.
I am going to the party. (Here a specific party is being referred.)
The dog is barking. (Here a specific dog is being referred.)

Indefinite article: a/an

The article 'a' is used to modify indirect nouns starting with a consonant sound (a house, a European) and the article 'an' is used to modify indirect nouns starting with a vowel sound (an elephant, an hour, an easy task).

A dog is a good pet.
He is an honest man.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Uses of articles

1. Article "the" is used with superlatives

When superlatives are used to refer to the qualities of the noun; article "the" is inserted before the noun.
Mukesh Ambani is the richest man in India.
Amitabh Bachchan is the greatest actor in Bollywood.

2. Article "the" is used when the subject is known

When the speaker and the listener both are clear about the referred noun, then article "the" is used.
Give me the hammer.
Do you want to go to birthday the party?

3. Article "the" is used when the noun is mentioned second time:

When the noun is previously introduced in the context and being mentioned for the second time, an article "the" is used.
She has a dog; the dog is brown.
He has a son; the son is 5 years old.

4. Article "the" is used when a group is referred with similar attributes

When there is a discussion about an entire segment of society with similar attributes, article "the" proceeded before the noun.
The younger generation is the future of the nation.
The old need care.

5. Article "a/an" is used before the profession name

While discussion about the profession of someone, article "a/am" is inserted before the name of the profession.
He is a lawyer.
She is a web developer.

Omission of Articles

1. When the nouns refer to abstract ideas, the article gets omitted.

God is great.
Everyone wants to have peace of mind.

2. An article is not used before the many languages and nationalities.

I studied French in graduation.
India is a democratic country.

3. The names of sports are not preceded by articles.

I like to play cricket.
She loves skipping.

4. Articles are not used before the name of academic subjects.

I like chemistry.
She was always good at math.

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Application : English Grammar: Parts of Speech