Article: Definition & Types

‘The, a/an’ are articles. Articles are words that define whether a noun is general or specific i.e. a noun being talked about it something special and particular or it can be anything in general.

Types of Articles:

  • Definite Article (The)
  • Indefinite Article (a /an)


Definite Article (The):

Definite articles talks about something in particular.

For instance:

  • Press the blue shirt for me.

In this example the definite article ‘The’ refers to a specific blue shirt that needs to be pressed.

When to use the definite article “the”:

  1. When you refer to something that you have referred to before.

        For example: I saw a beautiful lady. The lady had a cat.

  1. When you refer to something that is one of its kind.

      For example: the Eiffel Tower, the moon, the sun, etc.

  1. When you refer to inventions or species of animals.

      For example: the telephone, the Husky dogs, etc.

  1. When you refer to names of most natural components.

      For example: the Nile, the Pacific Ocean, the Sahara, etc.

  1. When you refer to countries whose names have the word “united”.

      For example: the United States, the United Kingdom, etc.

  1. When you refer to musical instruments after the verbs: listen to, learn, teach, play.

        For example: play the guitar.

  1. When you refer to cinema, theatre, radio and Internet, bank, post office, army, airport, shop, etc.

      For example: the Internet.

  1. With the superlative adjectives.

      For example: the tallest kid in the street.

  1. When you refer to a category of people.

      For example: the boys, the poor, the old, the youth, etc.

  1. When you refer to the order.

     For example: the first one, the only one, etc.

  1. When you refer to names of places.

     For example: the Metro cinema, the Hilton Hotel, etc.


Indefinite Article (a /an):

This describes anything in general.

For instance:

  • Press a blue shirt for me.

Here, the person wants a blue shirt, it can be any blue shirt from the wardrobe.


  • I would like to have an apple.

The above example doesn’t refer to a particular apple, it can be any apple.

When to use the indefinite articles:

  1. When you refer to something for the first time.

       For example: I saw a beautiful lady.

  1. When you refer to one thing among a group.

      For example: He is a student in this school.

  1. When you refer to someone’s job.

      For example: My brother works as an engineer.


When to use no articles:

1. When you refer to general countable and uncountable names.

For example: Children can be very noisy.

We should save water.

2. When you refer to most countries and cities names .

For example: London, Paris, India, Egypt, etc.

3. When you refer to the names of activities and sports.

For example: Running is very important.

I prefer walking to football.

4. When you refer to abstract nouns.

For example: Work is very beneficial these days.

We had fun in your wedding.

5. When you refer to languages and school subjects .

For example: I love English and mathematics.

6. When you refer to uncountable names .

For example: meat, milk, tea, gold, coffee, etc.

7. When you refer to the names of meals.

For example: breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper.

Note: If you are specifying a meal, you may use “the”.

For example: Did you go to the lunch you told me about?

8. When you refer to the names of these places if you are going to it for the same purpose it was made for: school, bed, mosque, church, prison, college and hospital.

For example: I am going to hospital to examine my arm.

Note: if you are going to the place for another purpose than the one it was made for, you use “the”.

For example: I am going to the hospital to visit my uncle who works there.

9. When you refer to the names of seasons and feasts.9

For example: In winter, I will go abroad.

10. When you refer to “home” after verbs such as: go, come and return.

For example: I went home last week.

11. When you refer to nick names.

For example: I attended a press conference for Professor John.

I wish to have a talk with Queen Elizabeth.