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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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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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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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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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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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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
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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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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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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
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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35 votes
2 answers
10k views

Why would "an mule" be used instead of "a mule"? [closed]

As generally agreed and as extensively discussed in this question, "an" should be used in place of the more common "a" where the following word begins with a vowel sound. I have ...
C Ren'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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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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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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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
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20 votes
2 answers
17k views

A or an XML report? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms? Does one use 'a' or 'an' before the word 'X-Ray'? Quite simply, should a sentence read "a XML report" or "an ...
cledoux's user avatar
  • 431
17 votes
6 answers
133k views

Is it 'a usual' or 'an usual'? Why? [duplicate]

is it 'a usual' or 'an usual'? 'A usual' sounds more correct in my head ('Today was a usual day.') than 'an usual', but u is a vowel. Which one is correct and why?
JFW's user avatar
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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
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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
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
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
  • 413
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
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
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
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
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
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
11 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why did Obama use "a" in "... to hear a King proclaim that ..."

From Obama's second inaugural speech: We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our ...
mnbv's user avatar
  • 111
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
10 votes
3 answers
498 views

Why no determiner before either 'lunatic' or 'knight' in "He's more lunatic than he is knight"

In the Norton Critical Edition of Don Quijote, ably translated by Burton Raffel, there is a passage in which Sancho Panza is talking about the titular character and he says ...while I am thinking ...
GoDucks's user avatar
  • 513
9 votes
2 answers
47k views

Why is 'an' used with 'an honour'?

Why is 'an' used with 'an honour'? Isn't 'an' limited to the vowels?
JFW's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
1k views

Why was "a world" used in this sentence of Melville?

I cannot make much sense of a world in the following passage from Moby-Dick: There’s your law of precedents; there’s your utility of traditions; there’s the story of your obstinate survival of old ...
John Smith'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
9 votes
4 answers
2k views

Is it incorrect to write "I rate this book a 3 out of 4 stars?"

I was informed by a new editor that the sentence "I rate this book a 3 out of 4 stars" is incorrect. In the words of the editor - ""A" is wrongly inserted; you have already used "this" as a determiner,...
AWandP's user avatar
  • 103
9 votes
1 answer
40k views

From one to another or From one to the other?

Is there a difference if I say "the recipe varies from one cook to the other" or "the recipe varies from one cook to another"?
nicog's user avatar
  • 99
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
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9 votes
2 answers
15k views

"It is bad practice ..." vs. "It is a bad practice ..."

"At work, it is bad practice to go to lunch early." "At work, it is a bad practice to go to lunch early." The noun "practice" is both countable and uncountable. So, could both sentences be ...
Nortonn S's user avatar
  • 137
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
40k views

"such a day" or "such day"?

It's such a nice day today! I'm interested in the usage of the indefinite article. I know this sentence is correct. We use an indefinite article in exclamations with countable nouns. But the ...
Valentina's user avatar
  • 1,071
8 votes
3 answers
628 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
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
8 votes
3 answers
790 views

Article in “having (a) hard time”

What's the difference? I'm having hard time figuring that out I'm having a hard time figuring that out According to Google both are used equally often. Does the article change meaning here?
hamstergene's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why do we use plural for indefinite objects?

Building off another question I answered here, I couldn't justify why exactly we say: I like to ride bicycles. Instead of: I like to ride a bicycle. (This could be anything: "climb mountains", "...
Andrew Vit's user avatar
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8 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is it correct to say "one out of *a* possible four"?

I am curious if it is correct to say "one out of a possible four". This is what I found in a publication: Discrete level (one out of a possible four), corresponding to a range of safety ...
Halst's user avatar
  • 571
8 votes
2 answers
18k views

Lack of vs A lack of

Are there any differences between the uses/meanings of "lack of" and "a lack of" for example in the following? There is a lack of interest in the topic There is lack of research on the subject ...
Bran's user avatar
  • 183
8 votes
1 answer
2k views

What colour eyes

I've just stumbled on this sentence What colour eyes does she have? in my grammar book. What got me interested in this is the combination of the words colour, eyes with what and without any ...
Dunno's user avatar
  • 639
8 votes
4 answers
9k views

Using articles for generalization

I'm learning such difficult part of English grammar as Articles. So far I've already studied that articles are a mess and full of contadictions. Right now I'm learning this topic from several sources ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 181
8 votes
6 answers
1k views

"As I am wo/man" in Twelfth Night, II, 2 (Shakespeare): a case of indefinite article omission or no?

Are "As I am man" and "As I am woman" in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, II, 2 examples of indefinite article omission or not? This question is (e)specially directed towards those familiar with ...
GoDucks's user avatar
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