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Questions tagged [indefinite-articles]

An article is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun.

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68 votes
9 answers
36k 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: “...
serg's user avatar
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145 votes
17 answers
190k 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 ...
Caleb Hearth's user avatar
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262 votes
10 answers
255k 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," ...
Dori's user avatar
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124 votes
14 answers
280k views

When should I use "a" versus "an" in front of a word beginning with the letter h?

A basic grammar rule is to use an instead of a before a vowel sound. Given that historic is not pronounced with a silent h, I use “a historic”. Is this correct? What about heroic? Should be “It was a ...
crowleywilson's user avatar
112 votes
10 answers
19k 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 ...
keithjgrant's user avatar
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44 votes
4 answers
321k 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 "...
JFW's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
2k views

"You're too clever a man"

You're too clever a man to imagine this. The above sentence was said by George Galloway, a man of excellent rhetorical skills. Since he said it, I doubt it's wrong, grammatically. But, I wonder if ...
Bright Polyglot's user avatar
36 votes
6 answers
157k views

Does one use 'a' or 'an' before the word X-Ray?

I was asking this question on Area 51: "How do I tell if an airport scanner is a X-ray scanner?", but I keep wanting to put an 'an' in front of X-ray because it starts with the 'eh' sound. So is it '...
Mark Rogers's user avatar
36 votes
5 answers
11k views

Indefinite articles used with plural nouns: It was AN amazing TWO DAYS

The indefinite article a(n), derives from the old English word an meaning "one". Generally this word only occurs in determiner function before noun phrases which are singular. However, there seem to ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
3k views

Indefinite article in the "An [adjective] [number] [plural noun]" construction

I wasn't sure how best to phrase the title of this question. I'm interested in constructions of the following form: An estimated 50 people died in the bombing. 'An estimated' could be ...
Quppa's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
16k views

"a" or "an" for words that don't start with vowels but sound like they're starting with a vowel [duplicate]

Is it correct to say or write an student or an store?
Mysterion's user avatar
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36 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why don't we use the indefinite article with 'software'?

Generally, one doesn't use the indefinite article with a noun because it's plural, but sometimes you get nouns where, for some reason, the indefinite article isn't used even though the noun is ...
Jez's user avatar
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29 votes
6 answers
29k views

Is it supposed to be a HTML or an HTML [duplicate]

I've seen many people who say: This is a HTML page. Yet I've also seen many people who say: This is an HTML page. Are both usages equally correct? Or, which is the grammatically correct one? ...
Pacerier's user avatar
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12 votes
3 answers
23k views

a cold vs flu / the flu

Have you got a cold? Have you got flu? Have you got the flu? Why can't we say a flu or the cold in the previous examples?
nicholas ainsworth's user avatar
52 votes
9 answers
18k 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 ...
Daniel's user avatar
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35 votes
4 answers
246k views

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

When should I use "as part of", and when "as a part of"?
PFrank's user avatar
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9 votes
5 answers
10k views

Indefinite article and people's names

Sometimes, on the internet, particularly in online games, I see people using the indefinite article before someone's name: "I see a Joey" or "I hug a Polly". I know some of these people and I'm ...
Highstaker's user avatar
54 votes
5 answers
18k 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 ...
Feng Rong's user avatar
  • 557
16 votes
2 answers
6k views

Usage of English definite article when referring to generic word

My mother language does not have articles, so I still struggle to choose when to use the indefinte and definite article. The other day, I learned: "The dog is an animal" is acceptable. "The iron is a ...
Sindry's user avatar
  • 455
13 votes
4 answers
31k 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?
Carla's user avatar
  • 139
13 votes
3 answers
1k views

Omission of the indefinite article to eliminate ambiguity [duplicate]

love between husband and wife What is the reason that there is no article (e.g. "love between a husband and a wife") in the above? Has some kind of a rule been identified grammatically when it comes ...
Max's user avatar
  • 185
12 votes
2 answers
2k views

Are there specific rules to build expressions with or without articles?

In English, there are lots of expressions built using articles like: at the station to the cinema play the piano have breakfast (no article) take a bath take a shower Are there specific rules or ...
Part Timer's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
885 views

"at/to the Beach" but "at/to 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 ...
brndn2k's user avatar
  • 89
6 votes
4 answers
3k views

If I can say "not that good a review," does that mean I can say "not that good reviews"?

I'm new to the template, so please forgive my ignorance of this community's parlance, formalities. I'd imagine that many here have seen the construction: "Adjective + Article + Noun," as in "so fine ...
David Marlowe's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
93k views

"To have a dinner" vs "to have dinner": which one is correct?

Does one need to use the article in this case?
Louis Rhys's user avatar
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5 votes
4 answers
13k 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 ...
shadeglare's user avatar
21 votes
5 answers
284k views

Which is correct — "a year" or "an year"? [duplicate]

The word year when pronounced starts with a phonetic sound of e which is a vowel sound making it eligible for being preceded by an. Yet, we tend to write a year. Why?
ikartik90's user avatar
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20 votes
1 answer
8k views

What article do we use before a symbol? Is it "an @" or "a @"?

I got a question when reading this text: The name of the decorator should be prepended with an @ symbol. Should we write "a @ symbol" or "an @ symbol"? As "@" is in fact "at", I would think "an" ...
fedorqui's user avatar
  • 1,255
12 votes
2 answers
1k views

Can predicative complements not be bare noun phrases in English? That is, are clauses such as “I am student” incorrect?

In Chapter 4 of the book A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar, written by Rodney Huddleston of the University of Queensland and Geoffrey K. Pullum of the University of Edinburgh and published ...
Aphremelius's user avatar
4 votes
5 answers
41k 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 ...
Costa Caroline's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
707 views

Should 'one' be considered an article?

There is but one king, and I am one. Here, the 'one' at the end of the sentence stands for 'one king' and 'one' is not specifying (in this particular place) a numeral. It is implying 'I am that one' ...
Nigel J's user avatar
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16 votes
5 answers
9k views

Why is it "an yearly"?

In the book The Wealth of Nations, (Adam Smith, 1776), the words an yearly are used. Why was this an exception to the indefinite article rules? Chapter VI, Book I: At the rate of ten per cent ...
user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

"There is X" vs "There is a/an X"

1: There is a reluctance on the part of European companies to buy from American sources. 2: There is an emphasis on the organic roots of spirituality. 3: There is a tendency to make the ...
FumbleFingers's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
20k views

How many articles should go in "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!"?

On the very first Christmas card it was written as "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year..." http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/christmas-card-sayings-and-phrases.html In Wiktionary that same ...
Ican Zilb's user avatar
  • 193
6 votes
2 answers
3k views

Why is “a” necessary before "Mr. X" and "Mrs. Y"?

There is the following sentence in the scene a reputed lawyer, Thomas Cohen gives advice to 16-year old client William Kane, the son of deceased bank owner on the issue of inheritance of his father’s ...
Yoichi Oishi's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
3k views

"The (Cobra)" vs. "An (elephant)", articles with nouns denoting a class

[ 1 ] tells on p.5 that "Singular nouns denoting a class" are preceded by the definite article "THE" (Example: "The Cobra is dangerous"), while on page 7 (Table 6. THE INDEFINITE ARTICLE) it tells ...
Gennady Vanin Геннадий Ванин's user avatar
1 vote
7 answers
317 views

What is 'there is a God' supposed to mean?

There's no denying that the phrase there is a God is in use, as shown in these examples. The New York Times, 2020: When the nefarious Cardinal Richelieu died in 1642, Pope Urban VIII is said to have ...
listeneva's user avatar
  • 1,447
0 votes
6 answers
17k views

"I'm Spanish" or "I'm a Spanish"?

Which one is correct? I am quite sure about "I'm Spanish", but is it wrong if I add an "a" before "Spanish"?
user57409's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
1k views

"A user" or "an user"? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Use of “a” versus “an” “A” becomes “an” before a word beginning with a vowel, does this apply to “u”? Is it “a ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 101
-1 votes
3 answers
3k views

What article should be used in such sentences?

What article should be used in the following sentence? He was English by [a/the/] blood. I feel there should be a zero article here, but I was taught that the zero article is impossible in English....
Anixx's user avatar
  • 2,858
31 votes
5 answers
303k views

"Half an hour" versus "half hour"

I'll be back in half an hour. I'll be back in half hour. Which is the correct sentence? Are there any differences between British English and American English?
apaderno's user avatar
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15 votes
3 answers
6k views

When is it correct to use "scissors" as a singular noun?

In the Oxford dictionary website, the following example for scissors is given: A small suture scissors was used to "fish" for the deeply embedded hair. However I find weird that it treats ...
Diego Jancic's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
5k views

"the average person" vs "an average person"

There's a question in a forum I frequent, and I'm trying to decide whether "the average" or "an average" is appropriate in its title. Let's say the question is: "Why is the average Canadian more ...
Sundar R's user avatar
  • 236
9 votes
4 answers
3k views

Why does English have an indefinite article? [closed]

I've seen many non-native speakers of English not making use of indefinite articles, presumably since their first language did not contain them. Thinking about this, and about the fact that even in ...
Daniel's user avatar
  • 57.6k
8 votes
3 answers
629 views

Unorthodox article placement

In my English class yesterday we looked at the following example: Monica is such a beautiful woman. We learned that the above sentence could also be written as: Monica is so beautiful a woman ...
Sotiris's user avatar
  • 183
7 votes
2 answers
2k views

Definite or indefinite article in "the/a devil's advocate"

I can't quite figure out which of the following expressions is more correct: He is the devil's advocate. He is a devil's advocate. He is playing devil's advocate. The combination of an article with ...
kijin's user avatar
  • 173
6 votes
4 answers
1k views

Using "this" as an indefinite article

I am not a native speaker myself and would like to inquire about a particular usage of "this". Here's an example from the Corpus of Contemporary American English https://www.english-corpora....
skybrod's user avatar
  • 61
6 votes
4 answers
2k views

A tendency to use "a" in place of "an" in American English

I have noticed that a lot of native American speakers use the indefinite article "a" in front of words beginning with vowels, such as interesting, old, apple , etc. Is there any reasonable ...
mido mido's user avatar
  • 695
5 votes
2 answers
11k views

How do you pronounce "a"?

I've heard this sentence "If you kiss a frog, it turns into a prince." The British announcer read this sentence like this: If you kiss [ ɛɪ ] frog, it turns into [ ə ] prince Is there any ...
18yoPolyglot's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
996 views

Indefinite article before symbols

The choice of "a" versus "an" depends on the pronunciation of the following word. Mathematical writing may use symbols as nouns or adjectives, and their pronunciation is not always clear. Here is a ...
Heatsink's user avatar
  • 283