ARTICLES: Indefinite Article and Definite Article
You cannot refer to a singular countable noun on its own.
It is usually preceded by an article, either the indefinite
article – a, an – or the definite article the.
When the countable noun is mentioned for the first time,
you use an indefinite article a for words beginning with
a consonant sound or an if the noun begins with a vowel
sound. However, when a countable noun is mentioned
for the second time, it is usually preceded by the definite
- I saw a (indefinite article) cat yesterday.
The (definite article) cat was grey with black stripes.
- The girl was wearing a (indefinite article preceding
word with a consonant sound “you”) uniform but it
looked faded. The (definite article) uniform was old.
- I took an (indefinite article preceding word with
a vowel sound “um”) umbrella as it was beginning
to rain. It did not help because the (definite article)
umbrella was faulty.
Sometimes when uncountable nouns are treated as
countable nouns, you can use the indefinite article.
- Please select a wine that you like.
You can use the with countable nouns when you want
to refer to a specific person or thing.
- The baby stared at the moon in fascination.
- Please take me to the clinic near the coffee shop.
I’m not feeling well.
The indefinite article is not used with uncountable
nouns. However, the definite article the can be used with
uncountable nouns when referring to specific items.
- I found the luggage that I had lost.
- I appreciated the honesty of the salesman.
Tricky Uncountable Nouns
The noun fruit is usually considered as an
- Fruit is good for your health.
When referring to a single piece of fruit, you would say,
- She had only a piece of fruit for lunch!
However, when referring to different kinds of fruit,
you may use fruit as a countable noun.
- I love to shop at that supermarket –
they have a wide variety of tropical fruits.
Similarly, you may use an indefinite article for uncountable
nouns when you are referring to a single item.
- a piece of furniture, a bottle of water, a grain of rice.