Articles might seem like a very basic piece of grammar, but leave one out and your sentence can be made unclear. Articles show whether a specific noun or a nonspecific noun is being referred to.
The two types of articles are direct and indirect. The is a direct article because it is referring to a specific thing; a and an are indirect because they are general. For example:
- Tell your friend to “go to a house” and they could show up to any house anywhere.
- Tell them to “go to the house” and they will know exactly what you’re talking about.
- If you told your friend “go to house,” they might be confused why they’re hanging out with you. This is why knowing articles is crucial.
However, articles aren’t that simple. Throw in a vowel and things get changed. A is used before a word starting with a consonant and an is used before a word starting with a vowel. For example:
- I want to eat a banana.
- I want to eat an apple.
If the noun has an adjective in front of it, then the article goes before the adjective.
- That is a large cat.
- That is an enormous spider.
- That is the yellow dog.
There are also times that articles don’t work and shouldn’t be used. For example:
- Articles are not needed when referring to sports:
- I play the field hockey.
- I play a field hockey.
- I play field hockey.
- Articles are also not needed when referring to a language or subject:
- I study the Latin.
- I study a Latin.
- I study Latin.
- The is not needed in front of countries, territories, cities, towns, specific bodies of water, or mountain ranges:
- I went to the Asia.
- I went to Asia.
- I live in the Waltham.
- I live in Waltham.
- When using an article determine if you are using it for a specific noun or for a general noun.
- Make sure that if it is a general noun that starts with AEIOU that you use an instead of a.