ESL Resources for Students & Teachers - Simple English News

Grammar: Indefinite Article


Cover_2xNouns in English can have a definite “the” article, indefinite  “a”, “an” article or no article.

Types of the indefinite article:

a – is always used before a pronounced consonant: a man, a book, a teacher

an – is always used before a pronounced vowel: an apple, an architect

* Careful: –  an hour is pronounced like a vowel, a uniform is pronounced like a consonant

Use (basic and some other rules):

  • before a noun when we speak about it for the first time

It is a book.

There is a plane above us.

  • after the verb to be when speaking about a profession or belonging to a group

She is a teacher.

He is an electrician.

I am a Catholic.

  • before a noun which is preceded by an adjective

It is a nice flat.

A clever politician never promises too much.

  • In the meaning of  “one”

I’d like an orange (one orange, it does not matter which one).

  • after WHAT in exclamations

What a surprise!

What an interesting film!

  • after SUCH if we wish to stress the meaning

This is such a difficult question!

My boss is such an arrogant man!

The Indefinite article can only be used with countable singular nouns.

a bus, a book, an orange

Person, country, town, names and days and months names are without the article.

John, Sunday, March, Tokyo …