Articles—words like the, a, and an—are special adjectives we use to indicate whether a noun is specific or not specific.
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- I've seen cases where people would say something like "The elephant is a fascinating animal" in stead of "Elephants are fascinating animals." Is this a case of "the" being used as an indefinite article or is it just plain incorrect grammar?(24 votes)
- In the case of "The elephant is a fascinating animal." I'd say it's referring to the specific class of animals called elephants, as opposed to other types of animals. So it's class-specific rather than individual elephant-specific.(35 votes)
- when do you use an or a?(6 votes)
- Example: An apple fell from the tree.
Example: A cat jumped off the desk.
Aum there are many more examples to use for An and A, but i hope these worked!(17 votes)
- Couldn't you say, "Another elephant" ? is 'Another' also an article?(4 votes)
- "Another" is a demonstrative adjective, akin to "this" or "that". "This elephant here, that elephant there and another elephant over in Botswana all have achy feet."(6 votes)
- Here's a question for David, our resident grammar expert. I often see written, "an historical", rather than "a historical". A historical would make more sense due to the sounded "h" in historical, and I've read that folks using "an" before historical are mistakenly trying to sound more literate, but that using "an" is actually incorrect.
Which way is correct? Or is "an historical" something that's just become a correct part of our language simply because so many folks use it?(4 votes)
- Ha! This is a fight I rehash from time to time with my colleagues on Team history; as a descriptivist, I'm inclined to say
a historical event, since it reflects English as it is spoken. My colleague Steve, however, says
an historical eventor
an historian; this is the pronunciation I usually expect from American Newscaster English.
However, I think it's needlessly stuffy, and it maintains a pronunciation that isn't reflected in American English, per David Alexander's comment above—since I pronounce the
h, I say
a historical.(5 votes)
- Just these simple articles have turned out to be one of the most annoying problems for me in many English tests as well as academic writings. I find the distinctions among when to use a/an, when to use the, and when neither of them is needed, are really vague.(4 votes)
- Welcome to the club.
an for words that begin with a vowel sound: AN umbrella AN apple An integer
a for words that begin with a consonant sound: A unicycle A cat A piece.
Neither when the word is plural: The towels, some birdseed, the apples.
But you could even just say the (object) when you're talking about something specific: Get me THE umbrella: not just any umbrella, but a specific umbrella.
So yes, it can be hard to understand at first and sometimes really vague, but it you'll get the hang of it once you memorize the rules.(1 vote)
- Will 'an' come before 'European' or not?
Will 'The' come before 'Paris' or not?
Sentence: The Paris is an European city.(2 votes)
- The rule about "a" or "an" (which to choose) is based on whether the initial sound of the following word is a vowel or consonant sound (not on whether the initial letter of the word is a vowel or consonant).
Though in certain languages, certain cities require the use of a definite article ("La Habana, Cuba" in Spanish, for example), this is never the case in English. Your example sentence best reads as: "Paris is a European city." Buenos Aires is an Argentine city. Baghdad is an Iraqi city. Bari is an Italian city.(4 votes)
- if they are adjectives why does the sentence sound wrong when i take it out?
The cat sat.
cat sat.(3 votes)
- Is it right that a is referring to the noun like for example: a box. And the an is referring to nouns that start with vowels like this: an ant?(0 votes)
- Yes it is correct. However, we use a in front of a consonant starting single noun. And an in front of a noun whose first letter sounds like a vowel. For example, we say a university, not an university. The reason is because here u sounds more like “you” not what is sounds like in umbrella. The example you gave is correct(5 votes)
- so if specific is like it is under that red desk but if it is not specific it will be under the desk?(3 votes)
- Non-specific: The cat is under a red desk.
Specific: The cat is under the red desk by the door.(2 votes)
- [Voiceover] Grammarians, I would like to tell you a tale of two elephants. In order to get at the idea of this thing called the article. We'll explain what that is after I tell you about the elephant and an elephant. Now articles are words like "a" or "an" or "the". Articles are a kind of adjective, some people would call them a determiner, that help you figure out how important something is. Or how specific something is. So, articles. What articles do is they tell you whether or not something is specific. Are you thinking about any old elephant when you talk about an elephant, or are you thinking about one elephant in particular? The elephant. And this is the difference. When we're talking about the elephant we're talking about a specific elephant. We have particular one in mind. This what's called the definite. Because it defines what we're talking about. You know, this elephant could be the queen of the elephants. Sometimes, when we make sentences we want to aim for that kind of precision. We want to be precise. We want to know exactly what we're talking and who we're talking about and why. That's a case where you would use the word "the". Now if you're not being specific. If you're talking about any old elephant. An elephant that you're not especially familiar with. An elephant you haven't introduced before. You would say "an" elephant, because it's not specific... and it's undefined. So, grammarians call that an indefinite article. When you know who and what you are talking about for sure you say "the". And when you're not sure, you say "a" or "an". So if you knew you were talking about a specific elephant. Say for example the queen of the elephants. The queen. As indicated by her royal crown, you would say "the". And if you were talking about any old elephant? You'd say "an". You'd use the indefinite article. We'll cover this more later. I just wanted to give you an introduction to the idea of what an article is. So "the" for specific, "a" or "an" for nonspecific. You can learn anything, David out.