Articles

Everyday English

1.   a/an (the indefinite article)

The form  “a” is used before a word beginning with a consonant, or a vowel with a consonant sound:
a man a had a university a European
a one-way street

The form ” an” is used before words beginning with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) or words beginning with a
mute h:
an apple                                    an island                                           an uncle
an egg                                       an onion                                             an hour

 

a/an is the same for all genders:
a man                                a woman                          an actor                              an actress                       a table

2.  Use of a/an

a/an is used:
A.  Before a singular noun which is countable (i.e. of which there is more than one) when it is mentioned for the first time and represents no particular person or thing:
I need a visa.                                      They live in a flat.                          He bought an ice-cream.

B.  Before a singular countable noun which is used as an example of a class of things:
A car must be insured
All cars/Any car must be insured.
A child needs love
All children need/Any child needs love.

C . With a noun complement. This includes names of professions:
It was an earthquake.                         She’ll be a dancer.                                   He is an actor.

D.  In certain expressions of quantity:
a lot of                                                              a couple
a great many                                                    a dozen (but one dozen is also possible)
a great deal of

E.  With certain numbers:
a hundred                                                             a thousand

Before half when half follows a whole number;

1 ½ kilos = one and a half kilos                                or a kilo and a half
But ½ kg = half a kilo (no a before half),                though a + half + noun is sometimes possible:
a half-holiday a half-portion a half-share
With 1/3, ¼, 1/5 etc. a is usual: a third, a quarter etc., but one is also possible. 

F.  In expressions of price, speed, ratio, etc.:

10 p a dozen four times a day
(Here a/an = per)

G. In exclamations before singular, countable nouns:
Such a long queue!                   What a pretty girl!

Such long queues!                          What pretty girls!

H. a can be placed before Mr/Mrs/Miss + surname:
a Mr Smith                            a Mrs Smith                    a Miss Smith                a Mr Smith

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *