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21.4 Articles

In English, nouns are identified or quantified by determiners. Articles, such as a, an, and the, are one type of determiner. Use the following guidelines to alleviate confusion regarding whether to use an article or which article to use.

  • Use a and an with nonspecific or indefinite singular count nouns and some proper nouns where you do not have enough information to be more specific. Use a before nouns beginning with a consonant sound and an before nouns beginning with a vowel sound.

Example 1

I have a dog at home, also. (The word “dog” is a nonspecific noun since it doesn’t refer to any certain dog.)

Example 2

(before a vowel): Carrie gave everyone an apple at lunch.

Example 3

(before a consonant; with proper noun): He was wearing a Texas shirt.

  • Use every and each with singular count nouns and some proper nouns.

Example 1

I heard every noise all night long.

Example 2

I tried each Jell-O flavor and liked them all.

  • Use this and that with singular count and noncount nouns.

Example 1

(with count noun): I am going to eat that apple.

Example 2

(with noncount noun): I am not too excited about this weather.

  • Use any, enough, and some with nonspecific or indefinite plural nouns (count or noncount).

Example 1

I didn’t have any donuts at the meeting because he ate them all.

Example 2

Do you have enough donuts for everyone?

Example 3

He ate some donuts at the meeting.

  • Use (a) little and much with noncount nouns.

Example 1

I’d like a little meatloaf, please.

Example 2

There’s not much spaghetti left.

  • Use the with noncount nouns and singular and plural count nouns.

Example 1

(with noncount noun): The weather is beautiful today.

Example 2

(with singular count noun): Who opened the door?

Example 3

(with plural count noun): All the houses had brick fronts.

  • Use both, (a) few, many, several, these, and those with plural count nouns.

Example 1

I have a few books you might like to borrow.

Example 2

Daryl and Louise have been traveling for several days.

Example 3

Are those shoes yours?