Grammar » A1 Grammar lessons and exercises » A/an, the, no article – the use of articles in English
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  • A/an, the, no article – the use of articles in English

    Exercise 1

    Choose a/an, the or no article to complete the following sentences.

    1We bought some cheese and ham. cheese was delicious.

    2It's interesting book.

    3There was document on the table.

    4Experts say that coffee can be good for your health.

    5I don't have car.

    6Can you pass me water?

    7 president visited our school.

    8My father is police officer.

    9Everybody knows that cats are very independent animals.

    10She picked me up at airport.


  • A/an, the, no article – grammar chart

    a, the, zero article

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    Use a/an

    First mention

    We use a/an when we mention something for the first time.

    • I saw an old woman with a dog in the park.

    Jobs and descriptions

    We use a/an to talk about people’s jobs or to say what kind of person or thing something/somebody is.

    • Paula is a teacher.
    • Paris is an interesting city.
    • When I was a teenager, I enjoyed sleeping.

    Note that you cannot use singular countable nouns alone (without athemy etc.)

    • I don’t have a driving license (NOT I don’t have driving license)
    • This hotel doesn’t have a spa. (NOT This hotel doesn’t have spa.) 


    Use the

    Second mention

    We use the when we mention something for the second time.

    • A man and a woman sat in front of me. The man was British, but I think the woman wasn’t.

    Specific things

    We use the to talk about specific things or people; when it’s clear which things or people we are talking about.

    • ‘Where are the kids?’ ‘They’re in the garden.’ (=We know which kids and which garden.)
    • Can you open the door? (=We know which door.)

    There is only one

    We use the when there’s only one of something.

    • This company is very profitable. The manager must be really good.
    • I’d like to live in this country, but not in the capital.
    • The moon looks beautiful today.

    Common places in town

    With places in a town where we commonly go (the park, the cinema, the doctor, etc.)

    • I’m going to the bank.
    • I found Peter at the station.
    • I’m at the library.


    We use the before superlative adjectives.

    • This is the best restaurant in town.

    Musical instruments

    We use the before names of musical instruments.

    • Margaret plays the guitar and I play the flute. 


    Use no article

    General meaning

    We do not use an article before plural or uncountable nouns to talk about something in general.

    • I don’t drink milk.
    • Women drive more cautiously than men.


    • I love music. (=Music in general.)
    • I loved the music at the party. (=Specific music.)
    • Children are often difficult. (=Children in general.)
    • They are a nice family. The children are very funny. (=The children in that family.)


    We do not use an article before names of mealsbreakfast, lunch, dinner.

    • Dinner is served at 8.
    • I always have breakfast with my children.

    Years, months and days

    We do not use an article before names of years, months and days of the week.

    • Friday is my favourite day of the week.
    • I think 2020 will be an excellent year.


    We do not use an article with TV (when used as a broadcasting service, NOT as an appliance)

    • I saw it on TV.
    • I don’t watch TV.

    But: Turn off the TV. I’ve bought a new TV.

    Names of languages and school subjects

    We do not use an article before names of languages and school subjects.

    • He doesn’t speak English.
    • I study biology

    Next, last

    We do not use an article before next and last + time expression (when they mean before or after now).

    • The meeting is next Thursday.
    • I saw him last week.


    • Last year we spend one week in London (Last year= the year before now).
    • We really loved London. The last day we were really sad. (The last day= the last day of that trip. NOT the day before now)
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