What to use - a/an or the?
The indefinite article a/an is used to talk about one particular person or thing when the listener does not know which one is meant.
- I saw a child in the toy store.
- She married an old man.
- A girl answered the phone.
The definite article is used when the listener knows which particular person or thing is meant.
- The child was crying. (You know which child - the one I met in the toy store.)
- I went to the doctor yesterday.
- The girl who answered the phone was polite. (You know which girl - the one who answered the phone.)
The first time you speak of something/somebody use a/an, the next time you repeat the same noun use the.
To talk about things in general, we normally use a singular countable noun with a/an.
- A spider has eight legs.
- An apple is red.
Note that we can also use a plural noun with no article to make a general statement.
- Children need love.
- Spiders have eight legs.
- Teachers must have patience.
- Apples are red.
- Computers are expensive.
Sometimes we use a singular noun with the to make general statements. This is particularly common before the names of instruments and inventions.
- Who invented the computer?
- I would like to learn the violin.
Sections in this articleNouns
Formation of plurals
Compound nouns and their plurals
Nouns that always require a plural verb
More CBSE English Grammar worksheetsPassive voice worksheet | Simple past tense
Passive voice worksheet | Past continuous tense
Passive voice worksheet | Simple future tense
Passive voice worksheet | Future perfect tense