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Rule 1 – Before words beginning with vowel sounds (a, e, i, o, u are called vowels while the rest are called consonants).
An apple, an egg, an owl
Rule 2 – Before words beginning with silent ‘h’ e.g. an hour, an honourable man, an heir, an honest man.
Rule 3 – F, H, L, M, N, R, X are not vowels but begin with a vowel sound e.g. ‘M’ has the sound of ’emm’ (vowel sound). So, an is used before abbreviations beginning with vowels or these letters e.g.
an M.L.A., an R.A.F. officer, an N.C.C. officer, an F.I.R., an X-ray, an H.E. school, an S.P.
USE OF ‘A’
Rule 1 In the sense of one e.g.
He couldn’t speak a word to save himself.
A one-man show, a one-rupee note.
Rule 2 Before words beginning with a consonant sound e.g.
a boy, a box, a dog
Rule 3 With vowel letters having consonant sound e.g.
a university, a unique article, a euphemism, a unit, a European language (all these begin with the consonant sound ‘yu’)
Rule 4 With units and rate (per) e.g.
He earns five hundred rupees a month.
Rice sells at ten rupees a kilo.
Give me a meter length of the cloth.
Rule 5 In exclamatory expressions before singular countable nouns e.g.
What a pretty girl!
How sunny a day!
Rule 6 When two subjects or articles are thought of as a single unit.
He was ready with a cup and saucer.
A cigarette is made of a paper and tobacco.
Rule 7 A lot of, a dozen, a great deal of, a couple of
USES OF THE
Rule 1When we speak of a particular person or thing already referred to e.g.
The boy near the tap is my brother.
She found a purse.
The purse contained a golden chain.
The golden chain is very precious.
Rule 2When a singular noun represents the whole class e.g.
The mango is considered the king among fruit.
The ass is used as a beast of burden.
Rule 3 With the names of Gulfs, bays, rivers, oceans, seas, island groups, deserts and mountain ranges e.g.
The Himalayas, the Indian ocean, the Persian gulf, the Red sea, the Andaman and Nicobar islands, the Brahmaputra river
Rule 4 Sacred books e.g.
the Vedas, the Puranas, the Bible, the Ramacharitmanas
Rule 5 Musical instruments e.g.
the flute, the violin, the tabla, the trumpet
Rule 6 With the names of inventions e.g.
I hate the telephone for its constant ringing.
The television is a gift of science.
Rule 7 Parts of body e.g.
He was wounded in the leg.
They hit him on the hands.
Rule 8 Religious groups e.g.
The Sikhs, the Hindus, the Parsis
Rule 9 Names enforcing law e.g.
The Police, the Navy, the Air Force
Rule 10 Political parties e.g.
The Congress, the Janata party, the BJ.P.
Rule 11 Airlines, ships, trains, newspapers, hotels e.g.
The Jet Airways, the Titanic, the Shatabdi Express, the Tribune, the Taj
Rule 12 Before the name of an empire, dynasty or historical event e.g.
the Gupta dynasty, the old Stone Age, the First World War, the American Revolution
Rule 13 Clubs, foundations etc. e.g.
The Lion’s Club, the Ford Foundation
Rule 14 Before common nouns denoting unique things e.g.
The sun, the sky, the earth, the world, the stars
Rule 15 With superlatives e.g.
He is the best boy in the class.
Rule 16 With ordinals e.g.
He took the first auto that came his way.
He lives in the tenth block.
Rule 17 Before the comparative degree e.g.
The more they get, the more they want.
He is the better of the two.
Rule 18Before an adjective when noun is understood e.g.
The poor would favour him.
We must not shun the disabled.
OMISSION OF THE ARTICLE
The article is omitted in the following cases:
Before a Proper Noun e.g.
Akbar was a great king.
When ‘Article’ is used before a proper noun, it becomes a common noun e.g.
Mumbai is the Manchester of India.
This man is a second Sachin.
Before a Common Noun, used in its widest sense e.g.
Man is mortal.
What kind of bird is it?
Before Plural Nouns referring to a class in a general sense e.g.
Bankers are generally honest.
Lawyers are generally intelligent.
Before Abstract Nouns that express qualities, states, feelings, actions e.g.
Honesty is the best policy.
Virtue is its own reward.
When abstract nouns, instead of referring to qualities, express a person or a thing possessing such qualities or express the qualities of definite objects. They are preceded by an article e.g.
She possesses the cunningness of a fox. (Here, cunningness refers to the quality of a definite object that is ‘fox’)
He is a justice of peace. (‘Justice’ stands for judge)
Before Material Nouns e.g.
Iron is a hard metal.
Silver is a semi-precious metal.
When material nouns express the names of things instead of matter of which they are representing ‘common noun’, so they can be preceded by the Article e.g.
He threw a stone on the cow.
She threw a stick at the pig.
Before the names of diseases like fever, cholera, consumption, etc.
(But, if the names of diseases are plural in their form, the article is generally used e.g. the measles, the mumps.)
Before the names of regular meals like breakfast, lunch, dinner e.g.
He was invited to dinner.
But if the meal becomes particular, an article is used e.g.
The dinner hosted by the queen was superb.
Before the name of things single in kind: Hell, Heaven, God, Parliament, Paradise (But ‘The Devil’ are exceptions) e.g.
He was condemned to hell.
The Pope delivered a religious speech.
Before languages or colours e.g.
I do not know Hindi but know English.
I like red and blue colours.
Before certain titles and names indicating the relationship.
Emperor Ashoka, President Bush, Dewan Bahadur.
Prince Charles is Queen Elizabeth’s son.
President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
Dr. Watson was Sherlock Holmes’ friend.
He is Duke of York.
(But, the Queen of England, the Pope are exceptions)
Before a noun following the expression ‘kind of’ e.g.
What kind of girl is she?
What kind of boy is he?
In certain phrases e.g.
To take breath, to set sail, to leave school, to lay siege, to catch fire, at home, in hand, at school, by water, at sunset, on earth, by land, by train, by car, on demand, in debt, in jest, etc.
Before nouns, which are plural in their meanings but are singular in form e.g.
cattle, gentry, furniture, scenery, advice, information etc.
Before the names of public institutions (Church, School University, Prison, Hospital, Court etc.) if they are used for the purpose for which they exist rather than the actual building e.g.
He went to church. (It means that he went to church for saying his prayers)
He went to the church and from there he took a bus. (Means that he went to the place where the building of the church is situated.)
When two or more descriptive adjectives qualify the same noun and the adjectives are connected by ‘and’, the article is used before the first adjective only e.g.
This is a Hindi and English Dictionary. (Here dictionary is one)
If two nouns refer to the same person or thing, the article is used before the first noun only, but if they refer to different persons or things, the article must be used with each noun e.g.
He is a better soldier than statesman.
He was a greater soldier than a statesman.
The Article is omitted after the possessive case e.g.
His brother’s car, Peter’s house
18. The Article is omitted with professions g.
Engineering is a useful career.
He’ll probably go into Medicine.
The Article is omitted with years e.g.
1947 was a wonderful year.
Do you remember 2000?
No article is used before name of games, sports e.g.
I am playing cricket.
He is fond of playing tennis
No article is used before a noun when it is modified either by a possessive adjective or a demonstrative adjective e.g.
Do you like my shirt? (Possessive adjective ‘my’)
I like this pen. (Demonstrative adjective ‘this’)
No article is used before a noun when it is preceded by a distributive adjective e.g.
Every student got a prize. (Distributive adjective ‘every’)
Each student was present in the hall. (Distributive adjective “each”)
No article is used before number + noun e.g.
The train arrives at platform 7.
I want shoes in size
Work ( = place of work) is used without definite article ‘the’ e.g.
He is on his way to work.
She is at work.
They haven’t come back from work yet.
Office (= place of work) precedes ‘the’: He is at/in the office.
To be in office (without the) means to hold an official (usually political) position.
To be out of office means to be no longer in power.
The definite article ‘the’ is omitted when speaking of the subject’s or speaker’s own town e.g.
We go to town sometimes to meet our mother.
We went to town last year and remained there for a week.
25. ‘Nature’ when means environment, do not use article before it e.g.
If you interfere with Nature, you will suffer for it.
No article is used before the name of a season e.g.
In Spring, we like to clean the house.
She is planning to visit her parents in winter.
27. Definite article the is not used before a time of the day e.g.
We travelled mostly by night.
We’ll be there around midnight.
Names without ‘the‘: The names of many places, especially those of important buildings and institutions, consist of two words. The first word is usually the name of a person or a place. Usually, we do not use ‘the’ before such names e.g.
Delhi Airport, Victoria Station, Edinburgh Castle, Jaipur Palace, etc.