When To Use A and When To Use The


In some situations, you can use either the indefinite article (a/an) or the definite article (the). Note that there is a difference of meaning between the two structures.

The definite article is used when you expect the listener to know the person you are talking about. Perhaps that person is known to both the speaker and the listener. It is also possible that he is a well-known personality.

Read the following sentence.

  • My sister is married to Uday, the playback singer.

In this case, you are talking about a well-known singer and that is why you use article the.

Now compare this with the following sentence.

  • My sister is married to Uday, a singer.

In this case, you don’t expect the listener to know who Uday is and that’s why you use the article a.

  • Tagore, the writer, was also a great painter. (Here we use the writer because we are talking about a well-known personality.)
  • She introduced me to Aravind, a painter. (Here we use a painter because we are talking about a person who is not that famous.)