Articles -Little Words, Big Trouble

Sometimes in English, the smallest words can cause the biggest headaches! Often, these little words are the glue that holds our sentences together. Using articles makes your writing and speech much more fluent and clear!

An article is a word, like an adjective, that we use to give us more information about a noun. In English, we have three main articles: a, an, and the.

Read about these articles, and click the link at the bottom of the page to do some home study exercises!

The articles a/an are indefinite articles. That means they can talk about any noun. For example:

"I would like a banana." -I would be happy to eat any banana!

"I would like an apple." -I would be happy to eat any apple!

We use 'a' to talk about nouns that begin with consonant sounds.

We use 'an' to talk about nouns that begin with vowel sounds.

The articles a/an can only be used with nouns we can count! In English, it does not make sense to talk about "a furniture" or "a money".....but we CAN say "a chair" or "a loonie".

We also do not use a/an to talk about plural nouns. Remember that a/an means "one"!

The article the is a definite article. That means it talks about one specific noun.

For example:

"I would like the banana in your hand" -I will only be happy with that banana.

"I would like the apple in your hand" -I will only be happy with that apple.

We use 'the' to talk about specific nouns. We can use 'the' for most nouns, including count/non-count nouns (the chair, the furniture) and singular/plural nouns (the apple, the apples).

Sometimes we don't use any article at all. Some nouns (like most geographical names, for example) don't go together with an article. We don't say "Weather in the Canada is crazy!" or "I love to live in the Chatham." It just doesn't sound right, does it?

Take a look at some of the nouns listed below. Try to write a sentence or two using one of the three articles that we talked about -a, an, or the. If you feel brave, leave your sentence in the comments section!

  • headache

  • pencil

  • milk

  • virus

  • children

  • child

  • Prime Minister

  • news

  • car

  • movie

  • book

  • elephant

  • ghost

  • student

  • trees

When you are finished, head to the ESL Library site to login and do some home study about English Articles. If you have not registered on ESL Library, please check your email for an invitation from your teacher! You have until April 21 to complete this work.

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