English Learning Box


Articles (a, an, the) Exercise

Before doing the exercise, let’s review how to use articles.

Grammar Rules


The articles in English are a, an, and the.

The indefinite article a/an

The articles a and an mean exactly the same. We use them to modify singular nouns.

The difference between a and an is that a comes before consonant letters, while an comes before vowels.

  • a man
  • a book
  • a giraffe
  • an apple
  • an orange

Notice that if there is an adjective before the noun, we choose a or an according to the first letter sound of the adjective.

  • a woman but an old woman
  • an apple but a big apple

Notice that the letter u is sometimes pronounced as a consonant like in university and sometimes as a vowel like in umbrella. So you need to choose a or an accordingly.

  • a university but an umbrella
  • a unit but an urban area

We use a/an to modify countable singular nouns.

  • I bought a notebook. (which means: I bought one notebook) 

We use a/an when we talk about people or things in general.

  • A doctor does a great job. = Doctors do a great job.
  • A lion is a fierce animal. = Lions are fierce animals.
a/an vs one

We use a/an before singular countable nouns in general or when they are mentioned for the first time. We use one when we want to count or emphasize the number one (in contrast to two, three, etc.)

  • I spent a night at the hotel.  (= any night, it doesn’t matter)
  • I spent one night at the hotel. (= only one night, not two or more)

The definite article the

When we introduce someone or something for the first time, we introduce the singular countable noun with a/an. If we want to refer to the same noun later in the conversation, we use the to modify it.

  • I hired a worker to look after my farm. The worker will arrive tomorrow.
  • We watched a movie in class yesterday. The movie was about extinct animals.

We use the to refer to things or people that both the speaker and the listener know about.

  • The dog is parking again!
  • I’m going to the store. Do you need anything?

We use the to modify unique things like the sun, the moon, the sky, the Mona Lisa.

We use the with the following:

  • superlative adjectives (the best, the longest)
  • times of the day (the morning, the afternoon, the evening, the weekend)
  • parts of the body (the heart, the arm, the leg)
  • ordinal numbers (the first, the second, the third)
  • general groups, concepts and ideas (the government, the police, the future, the truth)
  • titles (the President, the King, the Queen, the Prime Minister)
  • specific geographical locations (the Pacific, the Nile River)
  • names of institutions and organizations, such as schools, hospitals, companies, etc. (the University of California, the hospital)
Note: We use the with both singular and plural nouns, countable and uncountable nouns.
  • the ball (singular countable)
  • the women (plural countable)
  • the furniture (singular uncountable)

Zero article (∅ article)

We don’t use articles before nouns in the following cases:

  • plural nouns that refer to people or things in general (like in Doctors do a great job. Lions are fierce animals.)
  • uncountable nouns (butter, sugar)
  • activities (swimming, reading)
  • names of languages (English, Arabic)
  • names of colors (green, red)
  • abstract nouns (life, happiness)
  • proper nouns (John, Charles, Amman)

Note: We use the before these nouns if they have specific, not general, references.

  • plural countable nouns (The lions in this zoo are huge.)
  • uncountable nouns (The butter they sell here is of good quality.)
  • proper nouns (The John I know is a teacher.)

Time to practice!

Choose the correct articles: a, an, the, or zero article (∅).
1. He is __________ engineer.

2. Do you have __________ pet at home?

3. They are __________ women we met at the club.

4. My mother doesn't like __________ chocolate.

5. I have borrowed two books from __________ library.

6. She is __________ architect.

7. __________ robots are common in industries these days.

8. I need __________ screwdriver to tighten this screw.

9. _________ shirt I bought yesterday is blue.

10. I'm going to buy a few things from _________ supermarket.

11. _________ swimming is good for your back pain.

12. We are looking for _________ interesting game to play.

13. He's gone to see _________ doctor.

14. They are building _________ new school in our neighborhood.

15. I'm trying to give up _________ meat.

16. We will spend our holidays in _________ mountains.

17. She goes to _________ school by bus.

18. He makes _________ bed as soon as he wakes up.

19. Her office is on _________ second floor.

20. I have _________ idea. Why don't we eat out?

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