Questions tagged [articles]

Use this tag for questions about the usage of articles (e.g. a, an, and the).

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66
votes
9answers
35k views

Are there any simple rules for choosing the definite vs. indefinite (vs. none) article?

I can’t for the life of me figure out where to use a and where to use the — and where there is no article at all. Is there a simple rule of thumb to memorize? The standard rule you always hear: “...
136
votes
17answers
186k views

When should I use "a" vs "an"?

In the following example, is it appropriate to use a or an as the indefinite article, and why? He ate __ green apple. I know that in the case of just "apple", it would be "an apple," but I've ...
242
votes
10answers
241k views

Do you use "a" or "an" before acronyms / initialisms?

99% of the time, I'm clear on when I should use "a" versus "an." There's one case, though, where people & references I respect disagree. Which of the following would you precede with "a" or "an," ...
102
votes
10answers
18k views

"A/An" preceding a parenthetical statement

When a/an precedes a parenthetical aside (sometimes seen in informal/conversational writing), should the vowel rule depend on the first word in parentheses, or the next word in the "regular" flow of ...
78
votes
8answers
115k views

Is there a reason the British omit the article when they "go to hospital"?

Why do British speakers omit the article in constructions like "go to hospital" or "go on holiday"? Pretty much all American speakers would rephrase those as "go to the hospital" and "go on a holiday",...
5
votes
4answers
4k views

Why do people omit the definite article?

I'm used to always hearing or seeing a definite article before certain nouns. Yet on certain occasions the article is totally omitted, and it bothers me. I'm wondering what the justification for ...
41
votes
4answers
300k views

Is it "a uniform" or "an uniform"? [duplicate]

On a Physics specification, it says: 6.7 Know how to use two permanent magnets to produce a uniform magnetic field pattern. Isn't it "produce an uniform magnetic field", or is the existing "...
17
votes
5answers
10k views

Use of definite article before phrases like Heathrow Airport, Hyde Park, Waterloo Station, Edgware Road and Parliament Square

In this related question (Definite article with proper nouns, titles followed by a common noun), the OP asks if it is grammatical to use the definite article before phrases like Advanced programming ...
11
votes
1answer
3k views

Omission of "the" in "elected him president" and "made captain"

Why is there no the before president and captain? They elected him president. She was made captain of the team.
22
votes
4answers
40k views

Difference between 'all' and 'all the'

I came across people using all the in sentences instead of all. Select the type of user to view all the users of that type. All the users of the selected role are displayed. I usually strike out ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

"A" vs. "An" in writing vs. pronunciation

When starting a word with a vowel, the preceding "a" becomes an "an". I often find that when writing words that start with letter "N" or "M", I will pronounce them "EN", "EM", etc. (This is because in ...
34
votes
2answers
28k views

Is it necessary to use "the" multiple times?

It seems that the question has eventually become a series of questions.... An example goes as: The 1st and (the) 2nd paragraphs of the article are extremely long. Another example: What are the ...
3
votes
9answers
11k views

How do American English and British English use the definite article differently?

I decided to make sure that I know this important difference between American and British English, so I wrote what I have found out so far and I would be grateful to anyone who reads this and tells me ...
16
votes
2answers
13k views

Capitalising the definite article in names

When I was a youngster some mumble-mumble-mumble decades ago, I was taught that, in the instances of names of persons, places, and things which carried the definite article the, the article wasn’t ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

The definite article implying the generic idea of something

I know that the definite article "the" can be used to mean a generic idea of something as in "the lion is the king of the animals." In this sentence, the in "the lion" is used to imply the general ...
32
votes
4answers
211k views

"As part of" versus "as a part of"

When should I use "as part of", and when "as a part of"?
50
votes
9answers
17k views

Why is there no plural indefinite article?

The takes either a singular or a plural subject. A/an only takes the singular. When we pluralize a noun preceded by an indefinite article, we simply drop the article (sometimes replacing it with ...
20
votes
6answers
99k views

Why use "the" for oceans/seas/rivers etc. but not lakes?

Possibly two questions in here: Are these sentence constructions logical, and if they are, why are they different? I swam across the Ocmulgee River. I swam across the Pacific Ocean. I swam ...
12
votes
8answers
36k views

The + vowel letter

I've been told that when "the" is proceeded by a vowel sound, like "apple" or "hour", it's pronounced as "thee" and not as "thu". But after listening to a couple of songs, I noticed that sometimes ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

Can articles be omitted in front of the second and third nouns?

According to one article reference book, it says we can omit articles (a, an, the) in front of the second, third,… nouns. Is it really acceptable from native English speakers' point of view? Is it ...
5
votes
3answers
14k views

Do I need to put “the” before “most” in this sentence?

Is putting “the” before “most” in this sentence compulsory, optional, or a mistake? Fascination with language and attention to particular regions and communities in America are the most common ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

"become a President" or "become President"

If he had not been a film star, he would not have become President. In my opinion, "a President" is correct. Examples: "My dream is to be a teacher" "My dream is to be a President" Which is ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

Use of the article "the" with proper nouns

I'm writing a leaflet for children from primary schools who will visit our school. Is it correct to write: the "amerigo vespucci" school is waiting for you!!!! Is the use of the definite article ...
12
votes
5answers
11k views

articles with the possessive nouns in the plural

Is there a definite rule about the use of articles with the possessive nouns in the plural? One rule says that the article in such a phrase modifies the possessive noun. So, it is correct to say "...
11
votes
2answers
11k views

Use (or non-use) of articles before abstract nouns

I know I have asked a similar question before but this time I have examples taken from COCA and they do puzzle me. I would love to hear explanations from native speakers. The following (incomplete) ...
12
votes
4answers
29k views

"What kind of a person" vs. "what kind of person"

I often hear people saying what kind of [singular noun] rather than what kind of a [singular noun]. Are we not supposed to use an article (a) before noun?
2
votes
0answers
275 views

an SQA or a SQA? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms? Although I am clear about the usage of 'an' and 'a' on most cases, but I am not sure how they are applied in ...
5
votes
3answers
451 views

"He was neither seer nor prophet" How would you explain the absence of an article?

Here's a fragment from Jack London's Star Rover: Wordsworth knew. He was neither seer nor prophet, but just ordinary man like you or any man. What he knew you know, any man knows. But he most aptly ...
3
votes
3answers
447 views

Is there a usage of "the" that indicates one out of a group of many?

Considering the sentence Nearly anything can be a weapon in a martial artist’s hands., the indefinite article a indiciates that this can be any martial artist out of all in the world. Next, consider ...
21
votes
2answers
133k views

Omitting article “the” in front of plural nouns

I'm helping someone learn English (second language), and I'm having trouble explaining when to use the and when not to. For example: Students learn better when teachers are passionate about ...
52
votes
5answers
10k views

Is "flu" the only disease usually accompanied with "the"?

Is "flu" the only disease usually accompanied with "the"? From what I understand, you don't usually use "the" with diseases / illnesses / disorders ("have Alzheimer's / diarrhea / claustrophobia / ...
5
votes
4answers
12k views

The article "a/an" with uncountable nouns

Sometimes I read in books sentences where uncountable nouns are used with the article "a/an". For example She fades like a dew before the sun. Is it out of the common rules? Sorry if this ...
13
votes
5answers
2k views

Do idioms pose an exception to normal definite and indefinite article usage?

I found this phrase in my biology textbook (emphasis added): ...in relation to Earth's history, 100,000 years or even a million years is the blink of an eye. The part of the phrase in question is ...
7
votes
7answers
34k views

City names with articles [closed]

Typically we don't use articles with city names, e.g. "Seattle" and not "the Seattle." I know at least one exception though which is The Hague. Are there any other city names which we use with the ...
5
votes
3answers
75k views

Need for using the article "the" before "United States of America"? [duplicate]

Usually, we do not use the definite article, the, before names of countries but we use the before "United States of America". Is there a specific reason for using the article before the country "...
3
votes
3answers
379 views

Which is correct: "Who is Greek president" or "Who is the Greek president"?

I saw this in a trivia quiz on Stuff. Who is Greek president? Jose Barroso Karolos Papoulias Lucas Papademos Panagiotis Pikrammenos (sic) Surely the word "the" should be in there ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Can the definite article be omitted when referring to a person qualified by a noun?

Is there a difference between these references to a specific person: "The implication is clear: as the psychologist Jonathan Haidt said..." and "The implication is clear: as psychologist ...
3
votes
4answers
6k views

Why is liquid a countable noun? [closed]

I read this sentence in a description to a podcast from https://www.eslpod.com/website/index_new.html Batter, “batter,” when we talk about cooking is a liquid, made usually with eggs, and flower, ...
18
votes
4answers
40k views

What's the general rule for dropping articles in article & section titles or in figure & table captions?

It is said that "To give added punch, articles are often dropped in the titles of books, movies, music, and other works of art" and "To save space and boost impact, articles are usually ...
52
votes
5answers
17k views

Why can we say 'an American' but not 'a British'?

I am confused with the use of an indefinite article in front of British or Chinese. To my understanding, we can place an indefinite article in front of any “countable noun”. So, we can say a cup and ...
16
votes
2answers
9k views

"The X and (the) Y": When should I repeat the definite article?

I am a bit confused about the rule of setting the definite article in a sentence when it is associated to two nouns. The beginning and end of the channel. The beginning and the end of the ...
14
votes
2answers
9k views

"A wrong answer" vs "the wrong answer"

In English, when presented with a list (real or imagined) or answers that could be given to a question, and the correct one is not given, we will say that somebody has given "the wrong answer". ...
11
votes
4answers
20k views

"Planning for next year" vs. "planning for the next year"

I would like to start planning for next year. In the above sentence, there is no definite article before the words next year. Should it be present, as in the following sentence which sounds far less ...
22
votes
5answers
41k views

Definite article — “on television” vs. “on the radio”

Why are these different? We heard the news on the radio. We watched the news on television. In this book, the author says we must use television without the. Why? It makes me crazy. Is ...
7
votes
1answer
17k views

Do I need "the" before the name of my university? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Definite article before proper nouns I was updating my LinkedIn tagline and thinking about whether I should put the article before the name of the university. Student at ...
6
votes
2answers
13k views

Definite article with plural nouns

Are there cases where the definite article is used with a plural noun, or is it a rule that the definite article is never used with the plural of a word?
6
votes
2answers
699 views

"The Beach" vs "A restaurant"

When I want to go out to eat, I say: "let's go to a restaurant," but when I want to go play on the sand I say: "let's go to the beach." Why is that true? In both cases I'm talking about ...
4
votes
5answers
37k views

Use of the definite article "the" before "church"

I was in a Teacher's selection for a school in my country, and one of the coordinators said that she heard a mistake from another teacher that was unacceptable. I tried to figure out why was that, but ...
14
votes
2answers
72k views

"During summer" vs. "during the summer"

What is the difference between saying "during summer" and "during the summer"? As in: I work during the summer. I work during summer. Are both common? Is my feeling correct that the first ...
5
votes
4answers
10k views

Which is more common - 'the most' or 'most'?

A thing I have never had the time to look more closely into. But I find both variants: What I love most is ... or What I love the most is ... I think the more common form is 'the most', and I ...

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