A/ an and the...the indefinite and the definite article
1 The indefinite article -a/an:
Kayla: Could you get me a chicken club sandwich and an apple, please. I haven't eaten
John: Sure. How would you like the sandwich? With or without cheese?
a and an are indefinite articles. We use them in the following situations:
when a thing is mentioned for the first time
when we are not speaking about a particular thing.
Look at the following examples:
There's been a fire on Market Street. In the morning the police was finally able to put out
Can I borrow a pen from you? - This one doesn't work. Why don't you take the blue one.
I'm looking for a job. I don't really know what I want to, maybe something in the
2. The definite article the:
The guy at Caesar's pizza told me that the pizza I've ordered was going to arrive in half
the is the definite article
We use the when we speak about a particular/ specific thing:
Matthew took the key from the apartment with him.
Gary and Paula bought the red sofa and not the blue one.
we also use the when it's clear what we mean:
Look! There is a spider on the floor.
I want to speak to the person in charge, or even better, get me the manager.
I have to run some errands this afternoon; I need to go to the bank to get some money,
then I'm off to see the doctor and if there's some time left I want to drop off some
parcels at the post office.
....in the examples above it's quite clear what or who we mean: the floor of the room we
are in, the manager of the company, the bank I always go to, the particular doctor I
we use the when there is only one thing:
What's the highest mountain in the world.
The sun is a lot bigger than the moon.
No articles are used in the following cases:
A) - Generalizations (plural + uncountable nouns)
- I like music. but: Can you turn off the music.
- She's very interested in nature. but: What's the nature of her illness?
- Books are expensive. but: Put the books on the table.
B) - Some common expressions have no articles after a preposition:
I go to school - I come from school - I am at school.
He's at home - He arrived from home.
He has to stay in hospital/ prison/ bed -
- George's out of hospital again
- He's in prison.
The Circus is in town - How do you get to town
I don't like to be alone at night
Robert's on holiday. We expect him back next week
to/ at / after/ for + meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
in + season: spring, summer, winter, autumn
by car, plane, ship,....(on foot)
What's on TV? but: What's on the radio?
This is Alice's house and not: This is the Alice's house
She's got dark hair. and not: She's got the dark hairs.
Most street names do not take an article:
Saks is on Fifth Avenue, isn't it?
Where's Picadilly Circus, please?
I live in Marihilferstraße.
- the United States, the Thames