Articles (a, an, the, and no article) are important to making your writing cohesive and grammatical. “The” is used with unique items and at the first mention of a noun. “A” is used with single nouns that begin with a consonant sound, and “an” is used with single nouns beginning with a vowel sound. No article (also called “null article” and “ghost article”) is used with plural nouns.
Learning to use articles correctly is one of the most difficult grammar points in English, and it is not a major issue in everyday speech. However, when writing, it is important to make sure that you have used the correct article with each noun. While articles are not something to concern yourself in the first draft, there are several simple rules you can use to check your article use when you revise your work.
- I went to store and bought sandwich and juice.
- I went to the store and bought a sandwich and juice.
- a/an can be used in front of count nouns
- count nouns can be used with numbers, because they can not made plural
- singular count nouns must be preceded by a/an
- a/an is usually used at the first mention of a count noun
- the is used with count nouns in some cases:
- the second and subsequent times you use the noun in a piece of speech or writing
- when the listener knows what you are referring to (maybe because there is only one of that thing)
- an (not a) is used when the next word (adverb, adjective, noun) starts with a vowel sound (not a vowel letter)
- Noncount nouns cannot be used with a/an
- Number cannot be used before noncount nouns, because noncount nouns cannot be plural
- Noncount nouns are used with the when you are talking about a particular example of that thing